the Myth of a Christian nation, our American Citizenship, and our Citizenship in the Kingdom of God

Troy replied to my post on America diplomacy and our status as a "Christian" nation:
I understand the point of your post, but how can we even claim to be a "Christian" nation when we've played our part in murdering 50 million babies through abortion; quite legally I might add. That's enough human lives to repopulate Ft. Wayne close to 170 times. It looks as if gay marriage will be accepted sooner as opposed to later. They're already getting marriage treatment from some employers. I'm not trying to be cynical. Just wondering when we'll stop claiming to be something we're not. And I do agree that diplomacy should always be the first attempt to resolve an issue.

I am in complete agreement with you on our status as a "Christian" nation. We are not one, nor do I ever think that we were one. The sooner the church recognizes that, the healthier the church will be. Unfortunately, it seems that we aren't close to throwing off our attempt at making the American nation a Christian nation or separating the church from our American nation.

The November 2006 Restoration Herald (not available online except through a subscription fee) had an article that focused on that. Here is a relevant excerpt:
Today's religious syncretism is the blending of nationalism and partisan politics with religion. It seems to have begun after WWI in the revival sermons of Billy Sunday who would often say, "Christianity and patriotism are synonymous terms" and, when the spirit moved him, would jump up on a pulpit and wave an American flag at the end of a revivalist sermon...You now see this kind of religion wherever you go. On any given Sunday worship service or educational hour one is as apt to hear references to the ranting of a radio or cable television political commentator as one is apt to hear a reference to scripture. The American flag proudly waves in the breeze on the church flagpole atop the smaller, more humble, Christian flag. The minister stands behind a pulpit that is strategically placed so as to highlight the American flag which is usually seen over the preacher's right shoulder. Political preachers quote the constitution as holy writ while they view its Bill of Rights as license and declare cultural war on the judicial institution the document created to interpret its laws. In some churches, the worship of God includes a pledge of allegiance to the American flag where people, regardless of their nationality or citizenship, must stand and declare their allegiance to an earthly country instead of the heavenly one for which the writer of Hebrews tells us the faithful should be looking. In many churches the Boy Scouts march the flag up the aisle on Memorial Day. The few of us in the congregation who have actually served in the military during war are asked to stand to the enthusiastic applause of the patriotic multitude...War is glorified and one is generally left with the impression that any American who killed and died in war has been rewarded with a free pass to heaven. In many churches, your credentials as a Christian are judged every bit as much by which political party and issues you support as by your devotion to the philosophy of Christ.
I wanted to write, "We should encourage our nation to adhere to Christian standards as much as possible." Then I wondered, what is the purpose of making people that aren't Christians live up to Christian standards. It seems rather pointless. We should not lose the focus of our mission of establishing Christ's kingdom here on earth. If we succeed in our mission, then our nation will adhere to Christian principles.

Once the war in Iraq began, it seems that most churches began praying for "the world's leaders" and our troops. We still hear those prayers in church today. What those prayers usually mean is that we pray that our troops are victorious (see my post on Mark Twain’s War Prayer) and that George Bush has wisdom. The practice of praying for our nation and world leaders is healthy; it's our implementation of it that seems rather unhealthy.

When we pray for the world's leaders, we need to also pray for the leaders who do not share our stance in the world. I have yet to hear a prayer for Kim Jong-Il or Osama Bin Laden in church. We have a tendency to pray only for those people we like and not pray for those who disagree with us. If we do pray for those we dislike, it is usually to heap condemnation on them.

We need to take seriously the calling to be a people of God without national borders. Our fellow citizens reside in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and all around the world. God's kingdom is our nation of primary citizenship. We are aliens in this world no matter what nation with borders we are born in because our true citizenship resides in God’s kingdom.

Before residing in the Promised Land, the Israelites were aliens in Egypt:
And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and mistreat them during four hundred years. "But I will judge the nation that they serve,' said God, "and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place (Acts 7:6-7). 

Paul used similar language in his letter to describe the status of Christian citizenship when he wrote to the church in Ephesus.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God (Ephesians 2:19-22).

We are aliens visiting the nations of this world. We have no borders to defend with missiles and guns. Our citizenship is in heaven and shared with people throughout the world. We defend this nation with love.

We have a common citizenship with others, but no land to call our home. Fellow citizenship is one of the glorious aspects of the kingdom that is a reality now. However, we are still waiting for the perfect earth that will be ours to inhabit in the future.

Nowhere in Scripture is it written that we are to be superpatriotic. A lot of the times the following verse seems to be misinterpreted to say that.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing (Romans 13:1-6).

The key word is "subject". We would not have to be in subjection if we were in agreement. Subjection implies we do not like what is going on. Here is a good essay I read on the subject of subject.

I want to leave with a story. When I was a youth pastor in Alma, there was an American flag that stood on the stage in the front of the church. I was disgusted by it. Not because of a hatred of America but because America - the land of abortions, annihilation of the Indians, and many other acts that are a disgrace to associate with the will of God - doesn't deserve a place in the church. God’s kingdom is a much greater nation than America. The minister agreed with me. One Saturday night we moved the flag from the sanctuary up to the storage closet. It stayed there for around six months. During that time, the minister that helped me in the secret mission left and a new minister who was an armed forces veteran was hired. It became a semi-big stir after another veteran brought up that he missed the flag. I was asked if I knew where it was. I told them the story of the secret mission in the dark of night and reluctantly revealed its new top-secret location. The flag was returned to the sanctuary where it stands (as of my last visit there) proudly to this day.

Disclaimer: I like America. I like that I can go to a house of worship without the risk of getting arrested. True, some psychotic lunatic could walk in with a toothpick, pocket knife, machete, or an automatic weapon and do us in, but we do not have the government to worry about. I like some of the overplayed patriotic country songs and even songs like America, the Beautiful. I admire some of the Presidents we have had. I like apple pie, but I try not to eat much wheat because I'm sensitive to it. I like baseball, but I threw my arm out somewhere along the road and can no longer play. I like fields of grain except during allergy season. I like sunny skies except when I get too much sun and have a sun burn that itches like the poison ivy. Poison ivy grows out of American dirt, but I don’t hold that against America. Overall, I like America and my life here.

On the flip side, I believe that God still punishes people based upon their nation and its faithfulness to God. We are linked to the blessings or curses on the groups of people we are part of. There are many changes that need to be done if this nation wants to be pleasing to God.

Watch out for the potholes.