Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Patriotism and Piety
During election season my inbox was regularly flooded with emails that connected American pride, especially military pride, with Godliness. Furthermore, we (USAns) are the Good Guys, and people from other countries are the Bad Guys. I've seen the sentiment too many times now to dismiss it as a fluke, but it still puzzles me. Maybe because I was not born here, or because so many of my friends are from other countries, I don't see U.S. citizenship as any indication of one's relationship with God.
Don't get me wrong--I think that the U.S. is a great country, and I am happy to live here (although, in all honesty, I think I could be just as happy living in other countries, too). I appreciate all that the members of the U.S. military have sacrificed (although I have also wished that our leaders wouldn't sacrifice any of our servicemen and women unnecessarily).
It just seems to me that somehow, Christianity has become synonymous with nationalism, at least in the minds of some people, and that disturbs me. The Bible actually seems to be quite strongly against nationalism. Over and over we are told that there is no distinction between Jew and Greek in Christ. We are aliens and strangers here. Our citizenship is in Heaven.
Historically, nations arise, enjoy power, then decline. I've had many believers suggest to me that any tragedy that occurs in the U.S., or any waning of our power, economically or militarily, must mean that we are in the Great Tribulation and the End is Nigh. My eschatological views are different, anyway, but I am not convinced that the U.S. is the most important point in the universe, or that God cares more about lives in this country than in China or the Sudan or anywhere else.
What if all of the believers here began to see themselves as citizens of Heaven? If our status on Earth was simply that of Temporary Resident, and the peoples of other nations our brothers and sisters in Christ, would we do anything differently? Would it change our views on consumerism? Would we feel as entitled as we do now to the resources we use? Could it affect our views on immigration policies or how foreigners are treated? Perhaps even our view of military involvement?
As always, if the shoe doesn't fit, don't cram it onto your foot. But I think the questions are still worth asking.