Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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It is not uncommon at the anniversary of our country to consider how we feel about our country. There can be an element of nostalgia especially for older people who have memories of a country that was less distant from God. However, my memories also include being spit on simply for being in my Army uniform.55 yeas ago.

Often mixed in with memories are emotions associated with family, an appreciation for the advantages available over other countries, and the sense of loss for those who served and paid with their lives. While patriotism can be a deep-felt emotional experience, Christians should be careful not to give honor due to God to a political entity instead.

In 1994 (the 50th anniversary of D Day) my wife and I were outside a Christian bookstore in northern France. An older woman who had been told we were American expressed a deep-felt gratitude, even 50 years later. It is these sort of experiences that can make one proud to be an American. However, if one looks deeper, the love that leads one to surrender his life for others or even to take on the debt of reconstruction flows from a Christian selflessness found in those who walk by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What made America great was not our culture, industry, or even democracy. What made America great was the hand of God working in and through the lives of so many Christians. It can be emotionally stirring to see the flag pass by in a parade. However, rather than pride, we might better turn our hearts in gratitude for the millions of Christians whose collective self-sacrificing made this a country better than most and for the love of God that sent Jesus to die for the sins of the whole world so that we could be blessed by the lives of those who serve him.

A down side of patriotism is the anger one feels towards those who work to destroy the country either intentionally or through ignorance. This anger is similar to what one feels if one’s family is insulted or threatened. Those who seek to destroy can only accomplish their objectives because, as a country, we have turned away from God who is the source of wisdom and often do not have the discernment to know what is happening.

America is losing its greatness because so many are either abandoning Christianity, transforming it into something experiential, or changing it into a program of social and political activism. It may be too late to stop the slide of America into the same pattern as countries that do not know God. Often it is through hard times and difficult experiences that one learns the value of self-denial, self-sacrifice, and self-discipline. A prosperous, materialistic, and consumer society often sees little incentive to deny itself every indulgence and pleasure it can get.

Many urban areas are already lost causes as gangs duplicate tribal savagery and crime is actually encouraged. What hope there may be for America may lie in rural regions where a love of Christ, truth, and the willingness to deny selfishness may provide sanctuaries of reason and hope.


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