Let me begin by saying that I love the United States of America. I absolutely believe that it’s the greatest country in the world, and I am so grateful that God chose to plant me here, where we are free.
Sometimes I wonder how my faith would be different if I had been born in another place. In a place that is small and, in the opinion of world powers, unimportant. How might my walk with Christ look different if I was raised in a country where wars rage constantly? Or where abject poverty is the status quo? What would my reliance on Christ look like if I didn’t have freedom, didn’t have independence, didn’t have options? How much of my understanding of who God is is wrapped up in my feelings of what America is? Sometimes I wonder.
Many Christians have come to see our prosperous nation as evidence of God’s approval. More than that, some have even begun to identify the United States of America as God’s greatest accomplishment, albeit one that is being ruined by human corruption. Still others act as if the United States is God’s only hope. His only hope for fame. His only hope for accomplishing His will. His only hope for showing the world who He is. His only hope for sticking it to His enemies. I could write pages and pages about the implications of some of the statements that good Christian people have made on social media in the past five years.
How many atrocities of all kinds have happened all over this world in my lifetime? How much Christian persecution? How much killing and bloodshed and hatred and evil has permeated areas of the world that most of us will never see? Yet, when a few elections in our own country don’t go the way many American Christians were hoping they would go, they become convinced that we are in the “end times.” I’m not saying we aren’t coming to the end of this world. But if we are, the evidence isn’t boys in the girls’ bathroom or who is filling which senate seat. Things have always been bad in this world. Wickedness has always been a real and extreme issue. You don’t have to look further than the first few pages of scripture to learn that it’s so. But as American Christians, we seem convinced that all of eternity hangs on our prosperity and greatness. We are blinded to the fact that we are more reliant on our comfort and security, on our independence and freedom, than we are on the Lord Himself. In fact, we are so intent on bowing at the altar of this great country that when things take a turn for the worse here, we are convinced that Jesus Himself must be coming back any minute.
I think of the Israelites. Oh, those wanderers. Those stiff-necked people who almost always chose military might and political power and personal comfort over the One True God. They were spoken to, rescued, and miraculously carried through every possible type of danger. God showed them again and again that no one and nothing is a match for His goodness, His might, His power. Yet, time after time they desperately and greedily snatched at every possible security and comfort that this world had to offer. How long did God put up with the way that they idolized sex, money, power and ease? A long time. He was patient. He considered destroying them many times before He finally used other nations to squash them, forcing them back into the uncomfortable confines of relying on Him alone.
I promise you, I have heard every conceivable conspiracy theory out there. I have been subjected to countless claims that when it comes to the United States of America, mankind is somehow stealing the will of God right out of His hand. I have listened as sweet Christians have bemoaned what they see as the downfall of our great nation, as if the very foundations of Heaven will crumble if America does. I have seen numerous social media posts about this country that actually express pity for our mighty, unchanging God.
God made it abundantly clear to the Israelites that He tolerates no idolatry of any kind. And He is still a jealous God. He shares His glory with no person, no statue, no amount of money, and no country–not even the greatest country in the history of the world. We should at least consider the possibility that God has been terribly patient with us as we have grabbed for all of the comfort and security, contentedly reliant only on ourselves, our good fortune, and our good government. How long will He allow us to go on this way, building a faith on a foundation that excludes any real trust in who He is? I mean who He really is, regardless of what is happening in the world around us or even right here in our own country? Real reliance on Him usually comes at a cost. We are just as stiff-necked as those Israelites of old, who only turned to look at Him when there was no where else to turn. Maybe He will bring us to the same place. I guess the question we must ask ourselves is this: if the United States of America ceased to exist tomorrow, would that be the end of our belief in the God that we claim to hold so dear? Or do we have a faith that extends beyond the bounds of country, of comfort, of confidence in the systems of this world? Just how Christian are this nation’s Christians? We may soon find out.