Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Love and Hate in America

So people who care about our country often engage in this kind of debate.

Position A: America is a nation founded on godly principles where freedom and liberty are a way of life supported by Christian virtues derived straight from the Bible. We are God’s shining light to a morally confused and corrupt world. We are a nation destined to bring the truth of God’s word to the nations. America is the greatest country on earth!

Position B: America is so corrupt in its desire for power and love of money that it cannot see it is the most depraved nation of them all. We are a country that wages war to protect the values of those who follow the Prince of Peace? Insanity! We are a country of slavery and oppression and big money, and that is the only truth. America is evil!

The circles I have run in for the past 30 plus years have been more in line with Position A. It’s safe to say I love my country and thank God for the freedoms we have that are denied to others around the world. And I am grateful to our founders for the wisdom they executed in establishing our nation the way they did.

Here’s the thing. As a citizen of this nation, and as a Christian, I have noticed an inconsistency between how I feel it is appropriate to view myself, and how it is appropriate to view my country, according to the circles in which I run.

Evangelical faith has taught me to have a transparent and authentic humility with respect to myself. I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Every day, because of the darkness yet to be rooted out of me, I need the grace of Jesus to forgive me and empower me to live a God-honoring life. Without Jesus, I am hopelessly lost. I know what I am capable of. I know the darkness of my own heart. I know my faults and brokenness and limitations. The Scriptures expose me with a painfully bright light. I need to repent, be radically transformed and live the new kind of life only Jesus can offer.

So what about my country? Are we who are taught to confess and come clean with respect to our own souls somehow un-American for doing the same with respect to our nation? Do we freely confess our sins, but deny and hide the sins of our country?

Why is it America-hating to bring into the light the darkness of our corruption, racism, and economic oppression of others? Can’t Christians, out of love for their country, call it to repentance? Some do it all the time with respect to issues of abortion and the sanctity of marriage. They are seen by many in the church as champions of godly virtue. So why are those who advocate for America’s turning away from racial, social and economic injustice seen as America-hating, socialists? Isn’t calling someone you care about to repent and receive God’s transforming grace precisely what love does?

What if both positions above are true? What if America is blessed and has a special call upon it to bring the values and principles of the Kingdom of God to bear upon the earth? But what if that mission has turned away from its godly intent and become corrupt and self-serving? What if it is true that we still have a great deal of evil in us and are so desperately in need of God’s grace?

What if our souls and our institutions need the grace of God? And what if God is extending that grace to us, calling us to repentance so we can be the kind of people who are a blessing to the world we live in, extending freedom and liberty and justice around the globe?

If this is going to happen, my guess is that the people represented by Positions A and B are going to have to find a way, in humility, to talk to, listen to, and genuinely hear each other.

1 comment:

  1. Just read a Parker Palmer article in which he comments on democracy in light of the divide, really interesting.