What does America have to do with the hope of the world?
As we celebrate the 4th of July this year it can be easy to slip into a patriotism so thick that we see nothing but unblemished perfection in these United States of America. However, this is most definitely not true. America, like any other empire throughout history, has flaws and shall eventually fall.
Speaking on America as an empire, Felix Dennis once said, “America is an empire. I hope you know that now. All empires, by definition, are bumbling, shambolic, bullying, bureaucratic affairs, as certain of the rightness of their cause in infancy, as they are corrupted by power in their dotage.”
I’m not attempting to say that we should hate America, but what I am saying is that Christians who reside here should not place their allegiance to a flag above their allegiance to the kingdom of God. We should not look to America spreading “democracy” as the hope of the world, but rather look to the slowly growing mustard seed that is the kingdom of God (Mk. 4:30–32).
Peter reminds us that we are in a time of exile here on earth (1 Pet. 1:17). We are to consider ourselves to be foreigners, much like Daniel during his time in Babylon. Although Daniel was exiled in Babylon he did not place his hope or give his ultimate allegiance to that nation. He cooperated insofar as it was in line with the ways of God and refused to bow in times when it was not, all while anxiously awaiting the day when God would set His people free from the captivity they were under. Our time here in America is no different. Our land and our nation is not America. Our land and nation is currently stored up for us, and we anxiously await its complete arrival here when Jesus becomes king on earth as He is in heaven (Phil. 3:20–21, 1 Cor. 15:24–28).
It is so easy to get caught up in the patriotism. It feels right to have a pride in one’s nation. But this pride takes us too far when we begin to think that we are first and foremost Americans and secondly members of God’s kingdom. America is great. It has some amazing blessings that I benefit from and am incredibly thankful for. And while America’s history is full of both beauty and tragedy, I don’t mean to diminish at all the great things that it has accomplished in it’s lifetime.
So enjoy the fireworks, light the sparklers, and have fun with family and friends. Be grateful for the freedoms and blessings we have while living in a country such as this, but remember that the light of the world is not, and never will be America. That role belongs solely to the prince of peace, Jesus of Nazareth (Jn 1:1–9).
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