Recent events have sent me to writing. I have been learning to stretch my voice and it seems that the Lord is taking me far beyond my comfort zone. If you know me at all, I am not one to challenge or rock the boat in any way. I keep peace by not standing up.
But this time I stood up. And the response was overwhelming. I have often shied away from speaking out of fear that some will reject my voice. And perhaps some will, but I’ve decided that it is more important for me to use the voice that God gave me as my way of honoring him rather than living in fear that some will disagree with me; or even worse… unfriend me.
I can assure you that when I write it comes from a place of humility and is always directed to be received with grace, even if the message can be challenging to read. You can read my most recent words over at Annesley Writers. And I suggest that you do, because where I go next is a direct result of that article.
Again, the response that came from my writing was overwhelming, and encouraging. And it reaffirmed how necessary the message is. One of the comments that was written in response really challenged me to think about something I have been thinking about previously, however it is this comment that helped me articulate what it is I’ve been thinking.
“Sadly many (particularly white Christians) don’t see their nationalism as idolatry.”
American journalist Sydney J. Harris has an excellent quote that I recently read.
“The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war.”
Between these two quotes, something has occurred to me. We may not see nationalism as idolatry because our lines have become blurred. The current Christian rhetoric is that we are a “Christian Nation” and that we were built on “Christian principles.” This currently repeated theme may make it is easy for some to start associating being a “Christian nation” with Christianity itself. The reason it isn’t idolatry is because it has become a definition of a form of Christianity. We can love our country and we can love God, but they cannot be the same love.
This is most definitely not the case with all Christians living in America. I want to make that very clear. However, a line that has been crossed that allows people to think that their love of country equals their love of God, begging the question: who is the God they are serving, the creator of the universe who sent his Son to change and wreck our lives completely; or has America become God?
If the second has become true, what steps do we take to change the rhetoric to Christian by national association to Christian by the way that we live, the way that we sacrifice and the way that we love? How do we move from a nation of “Christians” to a nation of disciples who are spreading the gospel through their zealous love of God? How do we become a nation of Christians who have abandoned their comforts (comfort zones) for the message of Christ?
In school I am currently studying the book of Acts, and it has repeatedly blown my mind and brought me to tears. It is incredible to read how the early church lived for each other and for God and the many ways that they sacrificed for the message of Christ to be spread through the world.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles teachings and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:42-47
Where did our passion go? The Holy Spirit still works this way. Why have we changed the way we respond to his calling?
We need to wake up and remember that there is a responsibility that we all have when we accept the gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of Christ. His death was not simply a free ticket to heaven. However, his teaching was instruction on how we are to love one another, how we are to love God through the way that we love one another and how we are to “go out and make disciples of all nations” (Mat. 28:19).
It is time we shed our comfort zones and get back to the nitty-gritty of discipleship. We will never enact the change we wish we’d see if we don’t. Discipleship is not as simple as going to church and telling all your friends and family how Christian you are. Discipleship is sitting at the feet of Jesus and humbly listening as he teaches. It is allowing Jesus to tear down the walls of tradition that we have built up ourselves and replace them with more of his love, which will allow us to give more of his love to others. It is allowing our hearts to become wrecked and then restored by Christ. This is what will pour out and change the lives of others.
“I have learned that soap boxes don’t make me clean. But not being afraid to get my hands dirty has shown me righteousness.” – Amena Brown
May our words be full of grace and our actions be bold.