We American Christians have a complex relationship with our country. We love the USA. Most of us believe we have the best system of government humanity has ever devised. We believe in freedom.
And yet somehow we’re not quite sure our country “belongs” to us anymore. Many are concerned for what the future holds, and we feel powerless to do anything about it.
In complex, uncertain times, here are five ways Christian Americans can think biblically about our country.
1. Start with gratitude. No matter what other opinions, concerns, fears, and criticisms we may have about our country and its past and present administrations, if we live in the United States, we have much for which to be thankful. Do not be guilty of despising God’s good gifts. Thank God for the land in which we live and for all of the blessings that come with it.
2. Recognize our nation’s flaws. We can honor our country’s pioneers and patriots without granting them sainthood or treating them as infallible. Though our nation has many strengths, it also has its complementary weaknesses. Though it stands for truth and justice, it is still capable of perpetrating injustice—against other countries and even its own citizens. Our founding fathers understood this, and we must never forget it.
3. Think critically about our leaders and their policies. We must never fall victim to blind partisanship. While most of us will naturally gravitate to leaders from one political party or another, we must be just as willing to question our own party’s leaders. To paraphrase Solzhenitsyn, the line between good and evil does not run between Democrats and Republicans, but through every human heart. Both parties are capable of great good and great evil. Blind partisanship inevitably make us accomplices.
4. Seek the land’s prosperity. Prosperity and greed are biblical opposites. Greed takes from the land (and other people) more than it gives or returns. Biblical prosperity is sustainable; it honors the natural patterns, rhythms, and laws that God established when He created the earth. We seek God’s blessing and favor by honoring His natural laws. When we abuse the land or its people, we invite catastrophe rather than prosperity.
5. Remember where our hope lies. Whatever the history books may say, 1776 was not the turning point in human history. The resurrection was. Whatever role the United States may or may not play in God’s plan, it will eventually pass away. Redemption is found in Jesus Christ alone, and only His kingdom will last forever. Though we can and should seek the peace and prosperity of our land (and the whole earth), we are ultimately looking for another city. Our trust is in God alone.
How are you praying for our country today?
(This short essay was originally posted here on July 4, 2012.)