If the American church today had official colors, they would be red, white, and blue along with a sprinkling of stars. It is almost surprising that we don’t actually name it “The American Church,” rather than Baptist Church, or Methodist Church, or Presbyterian Church. It seems the church is more proud of its American heritage than with its denominational or historical heritage.
Several years ago I was scheduled to fill the pulpit for a pastor who was planning to be out of town on vacation. When I accepted the invitation, I simply checked my calendar to make sure I was available without noticing that it was Memorial Day Weekend. To be honest, as long as our family had no plans of being out of town on Sunday, it didn’t matter if it was a national holiday.
I prepared a sermon and showed up early, ready to preach.
Until the morning service began, I hadn’t given a thought to the fact it was Memorial Day. But the entire morning event was planned as an American celebration; patriotic songs, readings, and prayers. It was evident that I was the only one there that morning not prepared to pledge my allegiance to America.
I’m not denying that being an American citizen is a great thing. Like nearly every other American, there is no other place I’d rather live. However, that is not the reason the church gathers. America is not to be our object of worship on Sunday mornings (or any other morning for that matter).
To be honest, I’m often embarrassed by American Christians, and it is not because of sinful behavior, but by inconsistent beliefs. For example, there are many…
- Christians who are more interested in permission to carry a gun than laying down their life for another.
- Christians who are willing to support a politician whose lifestyle, words, and actions are incompatible with what Christ called us to be.
- Christians who are willing to kill to protect their Second Amendment rights, but have no idea what the Second Commandment says.
- Christians who insist on being tolerant, but then quickly scoff at conservatives and fundamentalists.
- Christians who think they know all the answers because they have read the Bible.
- Christians who believe the life of faith is all about believing and nothing about doing.
- Christians who are hateful while claiming to hate the sin but love the sinner.
Many people in the history of this country have given up their life in the fight for freedom of speech. It is a freedom that should never be taken lightly because it is not available in many parts of the world. In fact, I feel safe in saying it is the most essential freedom for a free society. If I were a dictator of a country, it would be the first freedom I would remove. It is even more crucial than the right to bear arms. Many countries without gun control do not have freedom, but there are very few places where they have freedom of speech but still live under oppression.