America’s greatness

It has been awhile since I read a most provocative and paradigm impacting book for me by Os Guinness, entitled The Case for Civility. While the book touches on what we would think of when we see the title, it looks at the subject in a much larger way. Civility in terms of society and people’s role and engagement in it. And especially in terms of the uniqueness of America and the first amendment which guarantees freedom of worship and speech. And here in America we are even granted freedom not to serve in the military, as a “conscientious objector.”

I am thankful to God for America. America has plenty of faults, true from the start, some of them grave. It is limited; I don’t believe it ever was a Christian nation as toward any theocracy, though along with Enlightenment principles, it was built on an understanding of the Judeo-Christian faith. It is not the kingdom of God, nor ever could be. Only the church, the community in Jesus are the people of God who live in and through the kingdom of God come in Jesus.

But just the same, America is blessed. I think of great people like Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. There are so many more, and we can find them through history right up to the present day. And each of them with their flaws. And the sacrifices of so many men and women who gave their lives in accordance with fulfilling their perceived duty and convictions.

There were surely no Anabaptist believers along with others, in the early years escaping persecution for not lining up with the state churches in Europe, who did not from the heart give thanks for this nation and their new found freedom to worship and serve God according to their conscience.

So I really thank God for America. God has seen fit to use it significantly and in spite of itself in his ongoing work in the world. And to judge it along the way.

Of course America is not indispensable. But may all from it that is good for the time and present age continue on until Jesus returns and brings in the true shalom through God’s kingdom in him for which we long and wait. And may we in Jesus be found faithful to God’s calling for us in him as citizens of heaven with the good news of Jesus for the world.

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6 comments on “America’s greatness

  1. Deb Gossard says:

    Amen!! And well written, Sweets! :)

  2. Kurt Willems says:

    Ted! I basically agree with you. I simply am more concerned that in the church we are willing to criticize the ‘means’ by which this country attained its freedoms. I have very few issues with the ‘ends’ so to speak. I too am happy to live here. God has given us a venue to live in that keeps us free from persecution. However, it is often at the cost of nations who endure such on our behalf. Maybe not simply religious persecution, but the degradation of the quality of life because of our past and current nationalistic conquests. This is why I believe that celebrating the 4th as Christians is contrary to the way of Jesus. I do not however think that we boycott the day either. In my post I said:

    “Let me add that I love fireworks, BBQ’s, and any good excuse to hang out with friends. I do not think that by simply attending a July 4th gathering that you are sinning. In fact, I often make the trek to the beach to watch the fireworks over the Pacific… while not choosing to actually ‘celebrate’ the holiday. I also love that I have had the privilege to grow up in this country. So, I am not “anti-America” by any stretch; I am happy that I live here.”

    But then I also added: “What I think is that as Christians we need to recalculate our past and allow the Gospel to be critical of certain things we now celebrate.”

    So, to close… I say, YES, America is great… I love living here… that is a blessing… but the cost/means of my comfortable life are not something that I think the church should glorify. Unfortunately, churches around this country will hold the flag and the cross dangerously close together.

    Ted, appreciate your positive lenses on this post while understanding that our nation is not perfect, and neither is her past…

    • Richard Wendt says:

      Ted great thoughts of which I am in complete agreement with. The U.S. has had a great many things to be sorry for and we have made many mistakes. But the basic idea that all people are created equal and have certain inalienable rights that include the rights of life, liberty, and justice have reverberated across this world. We also have the right to agree or disagree, often with a loud verbosity, without threat of persecution from the government. While my friend Kurt, and other of my friends, may disagree with the means they agree with and enjoy the results I have to remind them that what we enjoy has to come with a terrible price.

      I agree that as the church we need to be careful not to glorify warfare but we need to not be ashamed of being Americans nor to disrespect those who have given of themselves so that we may enjoy our freedoms. I for one am able to live within this tension. My first and foremost allegiance is to God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that we need to make every effort as Christians to find peaceful non violent means to end conflicts and to provide for others. I also believe that my faith and allegiance to God calls me to protect the weak and helpless.

      While, as you mentioned, we are not a theocracy nor a “Christian” nation we are one founded on Judea-Christian values that run through the very fabric if this country.

      I agree with Kurt that as the church we should not glorify the country but as citizens of the country we should celebrate the freedoms we enjoy, as well as the sacrifices that have protected those freedoms that we as citizens and as people of faith enjoy.

      • Richard, Thanks for your gracious comment. And for bringing what I think is some needed balance for me. There is no doubt that right/justice has come at a great sacrifice over and over through America. I do appreciate your conviction and how you express it here. Very good. I can have a deep respect for people of this nation who have thought so well and done so much good, while at the same time holding to the truth that the American way is not the Jesus way. That we as God’s people must be ever careful not to be taken up into a cause that is less than the kingdom, and even in some crucial ways at odds with it. That being said, at the same time we can know that God is in control in everything and that he is bringing good even out of the powers of this world toward the redemption and reconciliation of all things in Christ when God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We look forward to the day when the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ. For now America and other states are what they are and accountable to God, and we see them as such in their limited yet important role.

    • Kurt, Thanks so much for your long, thoughtful reply. My inclination is really not pro any nation, and would tend to just want to write any nation off. Or God using such. But at this point in my understanding of God’s revelation I can’t do that. I agree with your concerns here. We don’t want to justify America or war. But we do want to acknowledge what good may have come from God through America. We also need to speak prophetically to this nation’s sins. While at the same time acknowledging good it does in the way of bringing justice. That seems to be factored in Romans 13 where the state is said to punish evil doers, and praise those who do right. Even carrying out God’s vengeance and work in the process. None of them not sinful, just as America is and always has been.

      Thanks again, brother. I will continue to work on this, for sure.

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