This week over at: http://lovegodwithallyourmind.wordpress.com/
Before I begin this post allow me to present a bit of a disclaimer: I love my country, I support the military, I wear camo, I have guns, and I even listen to country music. I say this to preface what I am about to write that may cause offence for some. It is not my goal or intent to be offensive rather; my aim is to cause you to think about the role religion plays in your life as a patriot. It is unfortunate that the timing of this post lines up perfectly with a patriotic holiday.
Tuesday is Veterans Day; a day in which our nation will celebrate our troops both past and present. This day has new found importance for me since my brother will soon be shipping off to Japan, as an Airman in the United States Air Force. Undoubtedly, churches across the country today made a special tribute to the troops. These tributes may have included testimonies, a formal procession, patriotic songs, and the obligatory “Pledge of Allegiance.” While the red-blooded American that I am wants to jump and shout “Git R Dun!” My Christian identity plays the trump card, and I am left in a difficult predicament: Do I shamelessly take part in the patriotic elements during a service that is supposed to be geared toward the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or do I stand in juxtaposition and prophetically declare the patriotic elements and symbols as idolatry?
I have struggled with this question for some time, and have recently been exposed to a large amount of discussion surrounding the concept of American Exceptionalism. The way I see it; the Church in America is walking a fine line between appreciation and idolatry of our country. Christianity is not synonymous with America; Christianity transcends national, ethnic, and cultural boarders. I have met Christians from Honduras, Canada, Scotland, Japan, China, Indonesia, Korea, Russia, Ukraine, and I am sure I missed some. My point is there seems to be a propensity for Americans, in the name of patriotism, to use God as the reason for America’s world-wide influence. If this is the case Honduras would not be a politically volatile country, Russia and Ukraine would be friends, and China would not have a state approved version of Christianity.
Understand, I believe it is not only permissible, but should be encouraged, to show thanks for the men and woman who fight for our country during a special church service, and here is why: without the sacrifices of the men and women of the armed forces I would not have the freedom to worship as my convictions lead me. Or, to play off the above paragraph; if the American armed forces do not fight for America she will become as volatile and unstable as a Latin American country, there will be violent disagreements with bordering neighbors, and eventually the likelihood of a state approved form of Christianity is almost certain.
To bring this discussion full-circle and address my earlier predicament; I thank the military for preserving for me, the religious liberty that was founded at the beginning of America. That is, the freedom to worship who I want, how I want (within reason), when I want, and where I want. I pay special attention to the risk of idolatry when it comes to overt patriotism, and I prophetically call it when I see it. As a Christian, I can certainly see some trends that make me a bit uneasy, but as an American I proudly say I love this country.