I went to church this past Sunday and was wary the moment I walked in and saw the stage lit up in red, white, and blue. The projectors had images of American flags waving in the breeze. The service began with an audio-visual presentation about American history and freedom.
I found it all a little upsetting. Since when did Christ’s Church pledge allegiance to America?
The pastor’s sermon focused on celebration and the importance of our celebrating the gifts and privileges that God gives us. In that respect, he wasn’t wrong. We are called to celebrate and bring others into the celebration with us, but why do we think American freedom is God’s gift?
In America, we are so quick to thank God for the freedoms and wealth that we enjoy, but why do we assume that these things are given to us by God? Of course God has allowed us to have these things, but that doesn’t mean it’s to our benefit. God allowed Hezekiah to live an extra 15 years to the great harm of the entire nation of Israel.
We say it is God’s blessing, but in all history, when has God ever chosen to use material wealth and religious freedom to expand His kingdom? Are American Christians somehow unique in the manner that God chooses to bless us? Is it so hard to see a correlation between the freedom and stagnation of the church in America and the persecution and explosive growth of the Chinese church?
The pastor seemed dismayed by the lack of celebration in the American church, and yet at the beginning of the service he gave thanks profusely for the freedom we had to celebrate. When has making something easier ever made it more meaningful or passionate? We so often don’t celebrate freedom because here in America, it’s free!