For many in our secular pluralistic society Independence Day is simply another day off. It is characterized by fireworks and hotdogs, cookouts and sports, family reunions and friends getting together. It’s a long weekend for many and that is an opportunity to travel. For some it is a Christian holiday with notations that our Founding Fathers assumed a set of Christian ideals as a new nation was formed. As we recognize that we have many men and women in the armed services all around the world, presumably fighting for freedom and justice. I am sure Independence Day is special to them and their families.
In the past few years I’ve noticed a discontent with recognizing Independence Day down at church. The thought is that America is not God’s Kingdom, nor is it more beloved than the rest of the nations on earth. And as such when we are at church we are not Americans, we are simply Christians. We should not be tooting America’s horn while worshiping a global God. Contained within this thought is the implication of arrogance on the part of Americans to think that God might be willing to bless a country that is so eaten alive with capitalism and greed and aggression. Throw into this mix those who have conscience against any act of war. I do not think I’m misrepresenting that point of view, but if I am someone will feel free to correct me.
Doubtless, millions are awaiting my thoughts on this matter. I’ll just toss out some statements that reflect my own values and you can do what you will with them.
*I am so thankful to be an American. It does not offend me at all that a Canadian will be thankful to be Canadian (insert country of your choice here!). I am not judging any other country and their regard for their own homeland. I’m just thankful to be here. I try to be conscious of the things I enjoy because of the land of my birth. I’m also conscious of the many efforts of Americans to bring the basic necessities of life into lands where there is suffering and strife.
*I am so proud of our armed forces. Having family members and friends serving in the armed forces, I am grateful for their volunteerism. I doubt that any of us knows the kind of conditions in which they live or the many ways that they serve the people in countries where they are active. I know the military is not perfect. I do not know a perfect organization. But I do know that without our military evil men would have free course throughout our world. As it is, evil men know that they can be held accountable for their actions.
*I believe God has blessed America. I do not enjoy politics. I have a working theory that there are no Christian politicians. It’s an oxymoron. If there is one, he will not likely remain one or the other. I do not think that God has blessed America because of politicians, but because this is a land of givers and friends. In spite of statistics about Christianity failing in America, I do believe the Christian influence in America has led to more service, compassion, and helping hands than we would have known otherwise. God is certainly working through many facets of these acts of service.
*I do not think we become unAmerican for one hour a week. When I enter the worship assembly I have not become something different. I’m still an American, I still love America, and I still think God blesses America. I’m not much on an American flag in the assembly, but I come from a tribe that isn’t much on icons and displays anyway. But if I saw an American flag in a church building I would not assume that I am called upon to worship that flag. I would see it as a reminder of the country that we love and that God has blessed. That doesn’t mean He isn’t blessing other countries. It’s not an arrogant nor exclusive claim. If we sing God Bless America or the National Anthem, I do not think God is frowning. A humorist writing on Twitter under the name Xianity tweeted recently: God looking forward to a busy July 4th weekend weeding out all the patriotism from US worship services. I know some would agree with that. I wonder if they suppose that God is trying to ignore the fact that we are Americans … or that this is disinteresting to Him?
It has to be true that all of this can be taken too far. Patriotism itself is not evil, but it could become exclusive, arrogant, presumptuous and angry. The same can be true of the anti-patriotic mindset as well. Below are four interesting posts on various viewpoints.
Thanks for reading,