Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Unrighteous Faith

Have you heard the phrase "virtue signaling"? It's a phrase that's been growing in popularity in the past few months, and it's set to explode, although the concept has been around for a very long time. And basically, virtue signaling is the idea of making a big, bold, public pronouncement of believing something in particular and making a display of it to show others the kind of moral, righteous, upstanding person you are.

It's not new. It's something we do all the time. And Christians, in particular, are extremely guilty of it.

The difference is that when Christians do it, we make every one of our proclaimed virtues a measure of our faith. We make it about our Christianity. We try to declare that everything good that we do is because we are Christians...and because we are Christians, everything we do is good. We attempt to put God's stamp of approval on our actions so that we can declare them not just righteous, but holy, and then we publicly proclaim them, issuing them as a sort of challenge to anyone who would dare push us.

I saw this again recently as connections on social media shared a new meme that's starting to make the rounds. The meme says something like this:

But as for me and my household, we will - salute the flag - stand for the anthem - kneel at the Cross - and serve the Lord.

And then, it asks for an amen, which too many Christians are far too willing to give it.

You may recognize the framing of this meme as being biblical - and it is. It is taken from Joshua 24:15, where Joshua is trying to set an example for a nation that is starting to wander. He takes a stand, puts a foot down, and says He will serve the Lord. And if you go back to the beginning of his statement, it starts with this: Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve.

Which means that a meme of this verse that chooses the state and the Lord is a gross misrepresentation of Scripture.

We are called to live in the world, but not of the world. We are told to be good citizens, but never to forget that our real citizenship is in Heaven. We are called to love in the world, but not to love the world. We are told to live in the nation, but not to worship the nation. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, but give to God what is God's. And nowhere, nowhere, in Scripture does God equate our loving service to Him with saluting the flag or standing for the anthem.

It's a divided allegiance. I know it's hard to understand that in a country in which our faith is so closely tied to our politics, but hear me: it was never meant to be that way. Faith is not a political statement. Jesus is not a political figure. Our righteousness has nothing to do with the ballot box. We can love America for her goodness and her opportunities and whatever else, but we have to draw a line between our patriotism and our faith. If we fail to do this, we are splitting our allegiances and attempting to serve two gods. (Spoiler alert: our real God says that never works.)

But it's the kind of virtue signaling we do all the time. We want the world to see how serious we are about the things we believe, so we lump them all together and make them the same thing and dare anyone to defy us. Now, if you don't salute the flag or stand for the anthem, you're not just unpatriotic - you're anti-Christian. If you stand for the anthem or salute the flag, then you must also love God. We've tied them together so tightly and made this such a moral statement that we don't create space for either and end up sacrificing both.

And we've done it...with Scripture, of all things. (We're actually really good at this. We do it all the time.) We do it by taking a Scripture out of context, throwing in a few more things that sound good to us, and then presenting it with all of the moral authority of God Himself. And we call it faith, but it is something much, much less.

Beware of what you see, and be even more aware of what you share. God doesn't need your patriotism added on; He just wants your heart. And your patriotism pushes your God to the side when you try to worship the state and not just the Lord. There's a reason there's no flag flying from the top of the Cross - faith isn't politics. It never has been, and it never will be. And we were never meant to fly Scripture as a flag, either.

So just stop it, already. Just stop it.

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Period.

But as for me and my house, we will co-opt Scripture to make ourselves sound awesome. 

There's a difference between serving the Lord and saluting the flag. A BIG difference. 

No comments:

Post a Comment