There are many reasons why I respect America (especially because they have bigger guns). For instance, I love how they’re such a passionate culture; they looooove what they love. Years ago I was in Washington and there was a small political rally – or that was what I was told by locals. That small rally had 100,000 people at it. In Canada, if you have one zero in that number, you’re doing pretty good: (candidate) “Wow, we reached double digits; this is awesome!” I don’t really follow American politics (I prefer to have positive things in my life), but it amazes me how they treat politics and elections like it’s the Superbowl (football being another example of their passion) as people cheer very loudly for their favourite “team.” I will also note that when I did my seven mission trips to various parts of the United States, I met some of the most incredible Christians who exemplify what Jesus taught, and are waaaaayyyyy better than I am at demonstrating what faith can do in your life.
I want to be clear about my respect for America because this post isn’t meant to criticize Americans, but to make readers aware of several key ways that they are missing what God calls them to do as a Christian nation; in some ways they make Jesus cry. That being said, I think countries like Canada make God angry because we, as a culture, limit His influence and even deny Him. Thus, I’m very grateful America often tries to include God in things, but the following list will show that they’re not perfect and people shouldn’t judge God based on their actions… or any one person’s actions for that matter, especially mine because we can all suck from time to time.
- Pride: Who hasn’t heard this classic anthem: “America is the greatest country in the world.” And what does the Bible say? “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6b) “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt 23:12) “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” (Matt 20:16) That doesn’t bode well for Americans: (American) “We’re number 1… so I guess we’re going to be last.”
- Love Your Enemies: Love is the foundation of Christianity: “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” (Mat 5:44) “If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat./ If they are thirsty, give them water to drink./ You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads,/ and the Lord will reward you.” (Pro 25:22) Shoot, but if you love your enemies how can you justify spending billions on cool weapons if you love your enemies?
- Blessed are the Poor: Why are the poor blessed? “Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith?” Jesus also says, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.” (Luke 6:20b) Scripture goes further to claim: “Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you.” This is definitely going against the idea of the American Dream.
- Be Content: Of course, being “poor” isn’t the message of Christianity, but rather being content is: “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have… So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’” (Heb 13: 5-6) “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1Thes 5:18)
- Don’t Judge: Here’s one for everyone: “Do not judge others… The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Mat 7:1-2) Whether judgment means we think we’re better than someone morally or financially, being condescending is the opposite of loving. When confronted, this was Jesus’ response: “They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, ‘All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!’” (John 8:7-8a)
- Respect Marriage & Sex: Being content also means respecting marriage and sex, which is strange in a culture that glorifies sex and is full of divorce and affairs, but the Bible is very clear: “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery,” (Heb 13:4) and “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. ” (1 Cor 6:18)
- Respect Your Body: Following the idea of respecting marriage and sex, this rule makes sense. It can be as simple as: “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Eph 5:18) and it can go further to say, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Cor 6:19-20)
- Have Morals: Here’s a basic concept that shouldn’t be a surprise, but when we’re told things like “You must not steal.” (Exo 20:15) and then consider how many people illegally download movies and music or have illegal satellites:
- Be Good People: So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy and all unkind speech,” (1 Pet 2:1) and “It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make false accusations against you.” Why? Because we influence what people think of God: “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” (1 Pet 2:12)
- Don’t Repeat Bad Decisions: “As a dog returns to its vomit/ so a fool repeats his foolishness.” (Pro 26:11) Using this verse makes you have to wonder what I’m referring to whether politics, wars, or sins in general like the ones I just discussed. I’m not saying exactly what I mean and leaving you to make guesses, however, because I’m not American and like to leave mystery… like a jerk.
If everyone followed these rules, the world would be such a great place. If we all followed this one verse that summarizes things really well: “Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you,” who wouldn’t love a Christian nation and want to be part of it. After all: “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:5)
This week may you consider that people who call themselves Christian either aren’t really Christian or they still have lots of areas to work on, but no matter what, their actions don’t necessarily reflect what God wants for us. We are all called to love and sometimes we screw that up… especially me.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)