I have heard the phrase “Christian Nationalism” floating around a lot recently. Not too many years ago I would not have really understood what that was, although it had great influence on my thinking. Reading the book “Fight” by Preston Sprinkle suddenly made me aware of how my “normal way of thinking” contradicted some things in Scripture.
If repentance means “to change my mind”, I repented of my American Nationalism rather slowly. One of the first things I realized was that I was viewing the USA like it was a second Israel and that Americans were God’s people. I identified with and was more loyal to other Americans (whether they were followers of Jesus or not) than I did with the universal church and Christians in other countries.
When I read news of America bombing other countries, it didn’t bother me much at all. I assumed they probably deserved it–after all, they were “our” enemies. When I saw pictures or heard of innocent people being killed by American bombs, I shrugged and thought, “Casualties are a normal part of war.” Even when I heard that they were innocent Christian bystanders, I was not overly alarmed.
And yet somehow, when Americans were killed by terrorists or by other countries, I was concerned—even angry. I was suddenly aware that I cared less for my brothers and sisters in Christ on other continents than I did about Americans who did not even profess to follow Christ.
And in the midst of all this, I would have said I was nonresistant and anti-war. I would not have wanted to kill anyone or fight in a war, but I didn’t mind–and even cheered for—the American army killing “our” enemies.
I knew that being a follower of Christ meant that I had a citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven, but I was suddenly faced with the reality that I was equating that citizenship with my earthly citizenship. God began shaking up my worldview when I read about how Christians in other countries viewed America. They didn’t see us as some special nation of God.
I was suddenly aware that if I was part of His Kingdom, my loyalty had to be to Him and His kingdom more than to any other earthly kingdom. God cares about American lives that are lost, but in the same way that He does about the lives of those in any other nation.
And, in nations all around the world, Jesus has followers that are citizens of His own Kingdom. Those citizens are my brothers and sisters in Christ and they are part of the Kingdom that is my first loyalty. Shouldn’t their lives be just as sacred to me as the secondary kingdom that I am part of? Shouldn’t ALL life be as sacred to me as it is to the King whom I claim to follow?
These were some of my first thoughts down this path. I began to question why my thinking was so warped. What teaching led me to this?
Many American Christians are taught that since “America was founded on Christian principles”, God has a special place in His heart for Americans just like He does for Israel. But does God view America as being a second Israel and all other nations as less important? Of course not. Why then would I assume that all enemies of America are automatically God’s enemies also?
When God tells us to do something that is opposite of what the government tells us, Christians believe we should obey God rather than man. Shouldn’t we also refuse to endorse or approve or cheer for things that the government does that goes against what God wants us to do?
Wouldn’t it be better to speak out against it, or at the very least, stay uninvolved, rather than defending or excusing the wrong things our government does or has done?
We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom first and citizens of our earthly country secondarily. In fact, God views us as ambassadors. We are to represent His kingdom in the country we are in and our loyalty is to be to Him first.
Like many American Christians, I pushed that aside because I made the assumption that America is just part of God‘s Kingdom and being a loyal citizen of America is equal to being a loyal citizen of heaven. I thought of America as being different than all other countries because it was “founded on Christian principles.“ I made the assumption that this automatically made America part of God’s kingdom.
Now I was questioning that. What about countries that did not start their foundation on Christian principles, but have more true believers in their country in America does? Are those countries less “Christian” than America?
Jesus told a parable of two sons in which both sons were told to work in a field. One said he would, but didn’t go; the other refused but later changed his mind and went. Which one obeyed? If America was founded on Christian principles but its leaders and citizens now live mostly in opposition to God’s Word, why do we think they are somehow “still” a Christian nation? Aren’t they just like any other country? If we are going to claim that our nation is a Christian nation (and I don’t agree with this idea) then wouldn’t this principle apply?
And if we believe that there are Christian nations and non-Christian nations, what is the criteria? Is it just starting the nation out in the right way? Is it how many people in the country are Christians? If so, what percentage has to be a Christian before it’s considered a Christian nation?
What if two “Christian“ nations disagree with each other, should they fight and kill each other?
What if they are both convinced that God is on their side? What if two denominations decided to do the same? At what point is it okay for Christians to go to war against each other? Has God ever given a directive for disagreeing believers to fight and kill?
Even within America, we have two major opposing parties that war with each other. Each party has believers and nonbelievers within it. Both have believers that claim to be more aligned with Scripture than the other. Both parties have principles that are aligned with Jesus’s teachings and some that go against. Both point to the others’ wrong beliefs and excuse away their own party’s wrong beliefs.
Why endorse either party when the Kingdom of Heaven doesn’t have ANY wrong beliefs and I can just endorse His principles and promote them?
My loyalty must be to the Kingdom of Heaven and to the principles and laws my King has laid out. I should care for and be loyal to my fellow citizens of God’s Kingdom no matter what their secondary citizenship is or where they are located on the globe. If I am loving my brothers, my family–and even my enemies–as my King has decreed, there can be no rejoicing over any of the enemies of my secondary country being destroyed.
God’s Kingdom is a kingdom ruled by love.