Home > The Slow Grow > Preaching on the 4th of July

Preaching on the 4th of July

I’m conflicted.  What does one say about the 4th of July from the pulpit?  Something?  Nothing?  Everything?  We have the benefit of being a new church without tradition on any holiday, let alone this very American holiday.  We have no flag in the church building, and we don’t have one flying on our flag pole outside, either.  Not because we have something against the stars and stripes, but because we also don’t own a pulpit or baptismal font or a refridgerator.

Here’s why I’m conflicted: I love being a follower of Christ and enjoying the already-but-not-yet benefits of heaven and the kingdom of God.  I love representing Christ and being His ambassador.  I feel as though my affiliation is much more with the Kingdom than with anything else.  At the same time, I really enjoy being a citizen of the USA.  I reap many, many benefits as such – though admittedly, not eternal ones.  My responsibilities for both of these citizenships overlap in many ways.

Here’s something else: I’m not always proud of my country…how it acts, treats its own people and the world.  I’m often a little embarrassed by our tendency for greed and injustice.  Of course, I feel that way about my fellow citizens of heaven as well as myself.  So…

What do I call myself?  A Christian American or an American Christian?  Is there a difference, and should there be?  Where does my allegiance lie?  Also this: how much does one citizenship bleed into the other?  And should they?  I know where I fall, and if anyone comments on this post, I’ll share my thoughts with you.  Your thoughts?

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  1. Don
    June 23, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I have the same struggle. When I prepare messages and services for national holidays, I feel that the congregation would like it to be more of a celebration of our nation than a worship service. It’s a difficult balance. How do we speak to where the people’s minds are at that moment and still be faithful to the gospel? As I have thought about this over the past two or three weeks, I have to admit that we really do live in an amazing nation, with freedoms and opportunities probably never possible in any other country in history. It is much different from the context in which the New Testament Christians were living and in which Paul and the other New Testament writers were writing. They were an often-persecuted minority. The state stood in opposition to them and was often portrayed in evil images, such as in the Revelation. Today, I think, the danger is that we have it so good that we are in danger almost of identifying our country with the Kingdom of God, of thinking that the policies and decisions our leaders make are always right and good. Here is how I have decided to approach it: Speak to the wonderful freedoms that our nation provides, which are largely the result of our Christian heritage and values; yet warn that, as Christians, we still must be a voice that points out injustice and that speaks out when we see our nation drifting from the spiritual moorings that helped make it great.

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