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God + country

“God’s country.” “For God and country!” We’ve all heard these phrases.  Until recently, I’ve have really thought about what it means. They sound Christian but anyone following this “Stuff we Say” series knows anything can sound Christian and not be.

God’s country
“God’s country,” as defined here  means this:  “1. an area or region supposed to be favored by God, especially a naturally beautiful rural area. 2. an isolated rural area. 3. one’s native region.”  None of these are really scriptural. Yes there are extremely beautiful places in this earth, but God created all the earth – even the parts deemed ugly by us.  All the earth is beautiful and brings glory to Him. I will admit, after seeing New Zealand as shown in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, some regions appear more glorifying than others.

God and country
I couldn’t find a definition for “God and country.” I did find here that “God and country” originated from the Army phrase “Pro Deo et patria.”  If you consider the conjunction “and” between “God” and “country” this phrase essentially puts country on equal standing with God. Some are motivated to serve “God and country.” Sometimes we have ceremonies to celebrate “God and country.”  There are even “God and Country” church services around the 4th of July.  The problem with this thinking is that country is held at an equal (or sometimes higher) place with God the Creator, the Most High, who Was and Is and Is to Come. (See the blog series on Idolatry in America to read more about this).

Using the Lord’s name in vain (Ten Commandment #3) means to use his name flippantly, emptying it of it’s real meaning, in ways that make God to be an object. That being the case perhaps we need to look very closely at what we mean when we say these.ThingsWeSaw  I’d say God comes before country…. way before.


Idolatry in America – Are we guilty?

In the verse in 2 Chronicles 7:14 it says “…seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;” I think this is where Christian Americans are falling short.

Last time, I said I’d get back to the matter of idolatry. Idolatry is letting anything else take priority in our heart, thoughts, actions, over God, his will and his commands. Idolatry is wickedness to God – a wicked way we’re supposed to turn from. Idolatry is also the opposite of seeking his face. We might ask, what do God-fearing Christians put before God?

Entertainment – When we know more about pop-culture and stars’ lives than what the Bible says about our life and the life of Christ.
Sports – When we know more sports stats than Scripture, and the conversation standing the line to receive communion is about the game later (yes I witnessed this more than once).
Political party – When our behavior towards the opposite party doesn’t exhibit fruit of the Spirit; our party views contradict the Word of God; when our ability to love and reach out to a member of the other party is clouded by anger and resentment.
Patriotism – Using worship service time to sing patriotic hymns to our country instead of solely to God; an attitude of praise, worship, and reverence to the flag.  I’m not knocking patriotism in and of itself. I am knocking the practice of using worship time to sing songs that are more patriotic (“National Anthem”, “America the Beautiful”) and less worshiping of God.

God does not share allegiance. God is not American. While he has blessed this country, he doesn’t owe the U.S.A. any special loyalty. He has a people and they are not Americans. Regardless of how God has blessed us, we have squandered that blessing by lifting up the flag and the nation of the U.S. over the Kingdom of God. And what we’re seeing is him slowly take that away from us. Our source of pride and true object of worship in our hearts is being removed. God doesn’t want “God and country.” He wants “God!”

Why should he answer our prayers? We ignore “lesser” sins while railing against other sins.  He condemns jealousy alongside homosexuality (Gal 5:19-21, Mark 7:21-22). Also, Christians are stereotypically unhealthy enjoyers of the Potluck, which is gluttony. In Isaiah 9:8-12 it tells the story of the tribe Ephraim. They were attacked and with arrogance and stubborn defiance essentially said “We will rebuild everything bigger and better than before.” Does this not remind us of America’s attitude after 9-11? God ended up punishing Ephraim because instead of repenting humbly and turning to him, they declared, “We will rebuild!”

This is a call to return to God. Not by pressuring our local politicians to have prayer in schools or posting the Ten Commandments in public. Return to God by fasting (yes, not eating – Matt 6:16, Joel 2:12). By seeking God’s forgiveness because we put God with country. Because we love our lives and freedom more than His will. Because our pursuit of personal happiness means more to us than giving our lives for the good of His Kingdom. Our very identity is in Christ . Our citizenship needs to reflect our eternal citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. Not in the United States.

How do we need to live? Cast away everything that entangles us and dedicate our hearts – all that is us – for whatever He has us do (Jer. 24:7, 29:13, Joel 2:12; 2Kings 10:31; Luke 9:23, 10:27). No matter the cost. We do this as individuals first. Not for America but for the one who Created us.

Please prayerfully consider what I’ve said. Please consider what attitude God would have you hold on to. Thank you for reading.


Idolatry in America – Do we hold up our end of the deal?

In my intro post I suggested that maybe 2 Chronicles 7:14 may not be applicable to the United States in the context we often think it is. But let’s suppose it is. How have we been holding up our end of the promises in 2 Chronicles?

“If my people, which are called by my name…” – That’s born-again believers who have salvation only in Jesus Christ and are called to follow him. Who “my people” are not are nominal Christians or unbelieving American citizens who identify their faith with their national citizenship.

“…Shall humble themselves…” – Are we humble? Or are we proud? We hear “Proud to be American;” “Proud to be a ‘Christian’ nation.” We have a reputation for arrogance by most of the world. We’re quick to say “This is the best country in the world.” The Bible says a lot of things about pride – none of them positive. Jesus said over and over again in different ways, that the first on this earth will be last in the Kingdom. “Humble” is defined by Websters as “not proud or arrogant; having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience.” Does this definition describe Christians’ perception of America?

“…and pray…” – What do we pray for? Our nation’s success or God’s will? Are we more about the uplifting and furthering of America? Or are we more concerned about furthering the Kingdom of Christ? Do our prayers focus more on the other party losing elections or on their salvation? What does God want us to pray for? What we want for America or what he wants for his Kingdom?

“…seek my face…” – Basically this is seeking after God and putting His will before everything else. God before country. God before sports. God before political affiliation. God before our ambitions. God before hobbies.

“…and turn from their wicked ways;” – What does God consider wicked? Idolatry is wickedness to him. I’ll come back to this idea later.

What is God’s response to these actions? 1) He’ll hear us. 2) He’ll forgive us from our sins. Third, and last, is He will heal our land. I find it interesting that healing our land is the last thing God will do, as if it’s the lesser of His three actions. Which one do we consider most important? Healing our land or forgiving our sins?

Stay tuned next time as we continue to look into this.

Idolatry in America – What is God’s plan for us?

This subject has been on my heart for some time. I wasn’t sure how to address it because it seems absurd and yet also hits close to home for many. We often hear:

“America needs to get back to God.”
“We need to repent so God will save America.”
“Let’s bring God back into our country”
…so much in the Christian community. There are books, websites, videos, and movies all speaking the same message: America, as a nation, needs to return to God. How often do we hear this verse spoken:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2Chr 7:14 HCSB)

This verse has become a banner for American Christians who want to see America, as a whole, live and be governed by Judeo-Christian values. Believers have been praying for this for over a decade.  Even with all the prayers for a repentant nation I think we can all agree that the U.S. is moving further away from Christianity as a whole.

Is This Promise for Us?
Is God promising this to Americans? There are a lot of Old Testament passages that can be applied to us in the 21st century. Some were written for specific people at that time. What about this one? This passage was spoken to Solomon, regarding the Israelites, after building the temple. Verses 7:19-22 make it pretty clear that the oft quoted passage in 7:14 was written to those people for that time. My opinion: To say 2 Chronicles 7:14 applies to Americans takes it completely out of context.

What do I think is happening to America? Just as every other empire has came and went, according to God’s overall plan, the United States is going to do the same. God has allowed nations to rise and fall with the end goal of Christ’s return on the horizon. In the big scheme of things I think our nation is no different.

Now my opinions have often been wrong. So for the sake of the discussion, we will look at 2 Chronicles 7:14 next time. Let’s compare at what it says vs what we’re really doing.

What do you think about the future of America?

To read the rest of this series, here are the links:

Part 2

Part 3

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