Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Unchristian Nation

One of the places where we are most tempted to say that God's thoughts are our thoughts is in respect to our nation. We saw a lot of this around the last election cycle (and I think this is true around all election cycles): tons of Christians coming out and saying that America needs to take her God back so that she will be blessed.

Not quite.

I know that's going to offend a lot of people, but I make no apologies for that. This is biblical proof-texting at its most dangerous. Yes, it is true that there are many verses (in the Old Testament specifically) that reference "the nation" that is faithful, that worships the Lord, that obeys His commands, that loves Him. 

But that nation is never America; it is always Israel.

Israel existed in a time of polytheism. That's a fancy word for saying there were many gods all around. Every country, every nation, every people had their own gods. That is why God was so pointed in telling His people not to intermingle with those nations; they would be led astray to worship other gods. 

Now, Israel does a good service to the nations around them in that this nation does not typically identify the other nations by the gods that they worship. They make references to some of the sacred stones and pillars that the other nations have, but they call the nations themselves by name - Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, etc. This was not, we easily get the sense, the same in reverse. Other nations identified Israel by her God, not by her ancestors.

Israel was known as "the nation whose God is the Lord." That's how she was distinguished from other nations. When other nations come to attempt to make treaties or when they respond to Israel's approaching army, they never say, "We have heard a lot about you." No. They say, "We have heard about your God." Everywhere Israel goes, she was identified as "the nation of the people of the Lord." 

Israel, not America.

And that's as it should be. In a world of polytheism, Israel was distinct in her worship of only one God, in her adherence to the only legitimate Lord. She was a nation called by God, chosen by Him, beloved by Him as His special possession. Over and over, this is confirmed through the covenant, renewed throughout the pages of Scripture as God chooses Israel again and again and again.

God has never chosen America.

When Jesus came, God continued to love Israel as a special possession, but He extended His love beyond her ancestry and out into the whole world. That's what the New Testament was about. No longer was there just one nation that was the Lord's; the whole world was His. He laid claim to every soul, regardless of lineage. Regardless of ethnicity. Regardless of nation. The New Covenant does not single out one nation over another. (And we must also keep in mind that when the Bible discusses "nations," they are not using the word in the same way that we do. It does not mean "countries," but "extended families.") So if we want to make the argument that America is God's chosen nation, then we must also go back and reinstate the Old Covenant, complete with its Temple worship, ritual sacrifices, and mere anticipation of a Messiah. If we do not, we have smacked the New Testament in the face by twisting the New Covenant into something it was never meant to be.

There's no such thing as a Christian nation; there never has been. There was a Jewish nation, but in Christ, there is no nation; there is only grace. The onus now falls on us as individuals to be faithful. The responsibility is on our shoulders to be persons of God, not peoples of God. We come together, yes, as communities of God, but even the church is not a holy nation; it is a body of believers. No longer can we be known as a "nation whose God is the Lord" because that's just not the way it works in the New Covenant. We can only be known as "a man or woman whose God is the Lord."

From here, our faithfulness speaks into our nation. Never....never the other way around. 

No comments:

Post a Comment