this is a repost… so some of the links may be dead.
2. Begin every conversation about this subject with something like, “Let’s remember: the purpose of worship is worship, not celebrating the national holiday. Church is a Christian gathering, not a civic/patriotic gathering. We cannot do anything in Christian worship that would exclude any non-American Christians who might happen to be there.”
3. Under no circumstances allow the pledge of allegiance. Don’t feel forced to challenge the pledge in principle. Simply say, “In worship we pledge ourselves to God alone.”
4. Don’t compare the red of the U.S. flag or the blood shed in battle to the blood of Christ, or war deaths to Christ’s sacrifice. At best, that cheapens Christ’s death.
Indeed, but too often, people are unwilling to take these baby steps as they see nothing wrong in confusing the altar of Christ with the American Dream. I’ve post this before, and I love to call attention to it from time to time, but in the early 2nd century, an anonymous Christian author wrote a letter to the Emperor of Rome. He, or she, wrote the words which should replace every nationalistic display in the sanctuaries:
For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all ; they beget children; but they do not cast away fetuses. They have a common table, but not a common bed.They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven.They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life.They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.
And yet, nationalistic displays will continue…
Karl Barth had an interesting theology of America,
“If I were myself an American citizen and a Christian and a theologian, I would look at that liberty statue in New York harbor. She needs a little or a good bit of demythologizing—nevertheless, she may also be seen and interpreted and understood well as a symbol of the true theology, one not of liberty but of freedom. It is a real human freedom, one which God gives us in his grace to obey him.” An American theology of freedom, Barth said, should include “freedom from any inferiority complex over or against good old Europe, freedom from a superiority complex over or against Asia and Africa.” It should also include freedom “from fear of Communism, Russia, inevitable nuclear warfare and, generally speaking, of all principalities and powers.” Said Barth, summing up: “This theology of freedom should be a freedom for humanity.” (ht)
Enjoy your 4th, and be thankful for the men and women who have given us such as country, but don’t confuse then with Christ, or Christ with them. Don’t confuse the Christian Hope for the American Dream.