God then country is a myth for most. In theory, many strive to have their priorities correctly aligned, but all too often, what we are really passionate about and what we really care about come to the surface. And with the implied marriage between political leanings and religious beliefs in America, it’s easy to creep into American first, Christian second. No one will question you. Many will applaud you. But we need to bring clarity to the situation.
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that Jesus’ followers covered a broad spectrum of political leanings. Matthew the tax collector and Simon the zealot couldn’t have been more opposite in the political stances they took. The radical left and the radical right, as manifested in the first century, were represented in the ragtag group we know as the disciples. But what we see happen is that when the realization of what Christ’s kingdom is really like, these men with political leanings like you and me made primary the cause of Christ and secondary the cause of their politics.
4 Signs You May Be an American First, Christian Second
- Your politics inform your belief about God. // If you find yourself on the political right then you may believe that God has ordained America as the second Israel. You may believe that God is conservative and He is a capitalist. If you find yourself on the political left then you may believe that God just wants you to be happy and pursue your personal desires. You may believe that God is liberal and a Marxist. Does your politics inform your belief about God or is it the other way around?
- You can easily dehumanize the other side. // People who are Americans first, Christians second find it easy to caricature people in a different political party. If this is you, you may have found yourself saying conservatives are #$&*%*^ or liberals are $&@#$. You immediately think the worst in a person because of their political beliefs and you find yourself boiling with hatred toward them. Depending on the side you fall on, Obama is either the Savior or the Anti-Christ (both of which is blatantly wrong). As I said before, Jesus had followers on both ends of the political spectrum. But what happened with them is that their Lord taught them that the kingdom they should strive for goes beyond this world and its ideas.
- You give more reverence to the National Anthem than the worship of God. // Standing at attention and singing with passion is the scene you live when the National Anthem is played. Nothing wrong with this. You are an American after all. But the problem comes in when you gather with God’s local church and you daydream, refuse to sing, and rejoice when it’s all over. For the person who is American first, Christian second, the National Anthem has an adoration far above any worship of the living God. Singing in worship to God isn’t an option. Scripture tells us to do it.
- Your generosity to politicians dwarfs your generosity to God’s Church. // You see the value and benefit of generously giving to politicians and their campaigns. You also see the value and benefit of generously giving to God’s Church. The thing is, you have determined that your money will be best used in the realm of the politician rather than the realm of God’s mission through His Church. Your generosity has the mission of restoring or maintaining America rather than proactively pursuing God’s kingdom to be manifest in more places and in more ways. Jesus taught on money A LOT. Why? Because it’s a symptom of where our heart is and this entire conversation is a matter of the heart. But with anything else, where the heart is, we’ll also see actions follow. Here’s an overview of what Jesus taught about money.
Engage From a Different Place
I don’t start this conversation to claim that we should somehow compartmentalize our faith from our politics. I don’t believe it’s possible. In fact, there are many issues Christians should be engaged with that are political (see them here), but the thing is, they are engaged with because of our faith, not because of our politics.
Christ never called us to be Americans first and Christians second. He called us to lay everything down, including our very lives, so that He can completely transform us into new creatures who will be salt and light in this perverse and dark place we call earth.
What About You?
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