One of the greatest hinderances to the Jewish people fully embracing Christ in the first century was their strong nationalism. They were not asked to give up their Jewishness, simply to submit it to Christ and allow Him to be pre-eminent. They, however, wanted every convert to Christianity to become Jewish as well.
In early Christian mission work, the same problem existed. Missionaries from Europe would go to foreign lands and make converts for Christ, but they would also change the culture by making them European as well. This form of missional nationalism lasted for some time.
We taste some of this still as Americans. Even though America has become a very diverse nation, we sometimes see the Scriptures and our callings through the lens of American nationalism. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being proud of one’s country and thankful for what God as given us. However, God never gives us gifts that are to be lifted higher than He.
I am a proud and passionate American. I love our history and our foundation. I believe in the liberty and freedom that we represent. These things will never change. But as a Christian, I must realize that I am a citizen of Heaven first and an American second. My values, my calling, my life are shaped and formed in Christ. My goal, like Paul’s in the New Testament, is that all will know Christ. I am so happy that I live in a free country where I have very few obstacles in working out my calling, but I must remember that I live for Christ.
By understanding this fact, we actually become better Americans. Our motives are God driven and unselfish, which make us better citizens, neighbors and friends. God never calls us to ignore our loyalties. He simply transforms us in our relationship so that we are better at being patriots.
I hope and pray that this holiday weekend is meaningful and full for all. I pray that the God we serve blesses our nation in wonderful ways. One of His greatest blessings is you and I. As we follow Him, America gets a little bit better. God bless America.