When there is a discussion about politics and the religious heritage of our country it usually devolves into a back-and-forth battle between hardliners who either argue that the original intention of the founding fathers was to establish a country founded upon Judeo-Christian principles –or- that the founding fathers were deists whose intention it was to establish a country in which there was a clear separation of Church and State.
For outsiders looking in on such a debate, the position many may well believe speaks for the entirety of Christianity is the former stance, because it is the loudest or most publicized.
I would like to propose and give humble voice to another…very different…Christian perspective that circumvents entirely the “intentions of the founding fathers” discussion and that focuses narrowly on the politic intentions of Jesus, who the Christian ought to be primarily concerned.
My position is: since Jesus’ primary motivation was not to Christianize governments or political orders but rather to establish an entirely different Kingdom, it really doesn’t matter either way if the founders intended Christianity to be an influencing force or not. And as a result, Christians ought to work to build up the Kingdom of God rather than try to Christianize America.
Taking on the label of Christian, by simple deduction, implies that one is a follower of Jesus Christ. If that is an appropriate assumption then one would expect his followers to be focused on and obsessed with his words, his ways, and his life. More specifically we would expect his followers to focus on and have an obsession with the one thing that he himself was focused on and obsessed with- the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that operates by a completely different value system than the countries, empires, and kingdoms that we are familiar with, including the United States.
A simple, cursory glance at the Gospels reveals that Jesus was not preoccupied with trying to make the Roman Empire, or any other government or political system, “Christian.” Even further, the movement Jesus initiated (even though we have egregiously missed the point throughout our history of Christianity and continue to miss the point now) was never intended to reform countries, empires, and kingdoms from the top-down through Christian legislation. Rather, the primary intention of Jesus has been to establish an entirely different Kingdom that operates by an entirely different value system within the hearts and minds of people through relationships and that works from the bottom-up through love and selfless service.
Unfortunately a section of American Christians so badly, and so desperately, wants America to be a Christian nation that we have performed some serious theological gymnastics to align Jesus with our own political ideologies. We can’t fathom how enshrouded and consumed we are with the American governmental and political filter and how they distort how we see Jesus and his mission. We can’t reconcile a non-governmental, non-political (in terms of not supporting and propping up a political system), non-partisan Jesus with our nationalistic aspirations. And as a result we use his name, while ignoring his teachings, and then mix it together with our entrenched nationalism and/or political ideologies to create a hybrid monster that is NOT what Jesus had in mind.
If you think I have gone too far…think about it. Even if it was a good idea to make America a “Christian” nation… many of you who believe that would not agree with applying Christ’s principles at a governmental level. Can you imagine America turning the other cheek when attacked? Can you imagine America blessing terrorists who curse us? Can you imagine America loving our enemies rather than engaging in conflict with them? Me either.
Beyond that, the way of Jesus is never about imposing a belief system on people. Things like fighting for the Ten Commandments on government lawns and arguing for prayer in schools just makes people resent Christianity (and Jesus by association) because it tries to force and coerce people into our belief system (whether we like to admit it or not). Does this approach not stand in sharp contrast to Jesus and his Kingdom? Rather than continuing in the way of Jesus through a humble, quiet, servile demonstration of God’s Kingdom on earth…we instead choose an overt, over the top, imposing reminder of “what you need to do” and “how it’s going to be.” Rather than taking the way of the non-retaliatory, non-argumentative suffering servant who does not need to defend himself…we instead believe we have to fight, claw, and defend to preserve our faith. Come on guys.
The truth is that we Christians are sorely mistaken for trying to co-opt the Kingdom of God and for trying to fit it into our own nationalistic, political, and over the top agendas. God help us.
We need to wake up and realize that we do not have to have the full support, backing, and authorization of the government in order to live, practice, and demonstrate our faith. Is God not with us everywhere we go? Do we not have the opportunity to have prayers on our lips at all times? Do we not have freedom through Christ in any circumstance? Then we don’t need to fight to preserve those things we already have!
We need to wake up and realize that we also do not have to have the full support, backing, and authorization of the government in order for the Kingdom of God to grow, flourish, and expand! I personally believe we have a better opportunity for people to follow Jesus if we quit pursuing this dead-end road of trying to Christianize America. Need an example? Look at how the Kingdom of God is growing and expanding in China.
I want to be crystal clear: I am not anti-American…but I am uncompromisingly pro-Jesus and pro-Kingdom. My first and only allegiance is to Jesus, his way, his Kingdom, and the transcendent value system of God…and many times the values of America will not align with any of those things. If God wants the United States to flourish for the sake of his Kingdom and his Glory…then praise God! But if God needs for the United States to fall down for the sake of his Kingdom and his Glory…then praise God!
For the follower of Jesus Christ the ONLY system we should be preoccupied and obsessed with is the Kingdom of God. For it is in this Kingdom we find peace, love, value, and life to the fullest…and it does not need to be mixed or blended with anything else. The Kingdom of God stands alone, is self-sufficient, and is not bent on nationalism or political ideology…because its values transcend each one of them.
only peace and love…
if you don’t have any idea about what the Kingdom of God is…download my book for free at www.theunearthedproject.com