It’s a pledge many Christians have never cited or memorized:
“I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to its Savior, for whose Kingdom it stands; One brotherhood, uniting all true Christians in service and in love.”
It’s a flag that represents not an earthly country with manmade borders but an eternal kingdom that will exist long after the earth and its kingdoms are destroyed. It’s a flag that recognizes a people bound by a heavenly citizenship that isn’t subject to limitations, temporary visas or naturalization. It’s an emblem that is common to Americans, as well as Asians, Hispanics, Africans, blacks, whites, young and old with belief in Jesus Christ and brotherly love as its only criteria. It is my flag and I love all it represents.
Yesterday was a shamefully divisive day among Christians and non-Christians alike as we witnessed a sport we all love and anticipate in the Fall of each year become a necessary platform as players and owners alike showed solidarity on some form of protest against not a country they hate, as some believe and wrongly accuse, but a country they love who in many documented cases, has not been fair in it’s distribution of equality and justice for all. How I wish that any other platform had been chosen but football, but alas, here we are, millions of people being made aware of continued and systematic pockets of racial prejudice, yes even in 2017, and forced to acknowledge its evil exisstence. It is not something that all whites are guilty of, nor is it something all blacks are victims of, but if few are affected, all are. The chosen protest is a perceived lack of respect for a country and it’s flag, as well as all who fought for its freedoms. To say it’s a touchy subject is a severe under-exaggeration. My opinion is not popular among many people.
The argument as to whether players are on company time as salaried employees will be left up to others to debate. My concern is not over rights, but over where our true allegiance should lie as Christians. I thank God daily that I was born into a country of rights and freedoms and I’m genuinely grateful to be born American. But my birth was not by my choosing but only by God’s providence. I could have just as easily been born in Nigeria or Afghanistan or Myanmar, point being I had nothing to do with my birth origin. I honor our flag and all those who fought so bravely to assure my freedom, many paying the highest cost of their lives-I aknowledge that. I participate whole-heartedly in July 4th activities and festivals celebrating our freedom and uniqueness and yes, greatness as a country. But at the end of the day, or quite literally, at the end of days, I will exist as a Believer and one of the elect, not as an American or any other nationality.
God caused the seas to divide the land, according the the creation story in Genesis. It is man, however, who divided, conquered, plundered in some cases, and ultimately created the borders used to define countries as we know them today, creating laws and limits as to who can cross, who can benefit, who can be referred to as its citizens and share in its freedoms. When God refers to nations it is usually a reference to a people of common origin, not a people defined by borders. Jesus clearly pointed this out when he was asked about paying taxes in a scheme to trick Him. His answer, give to God what is God’s and to a government what is the government’s, is self-explanatory-one does not necessarily belong to the other. What and who belongs to God is not determined by borders or restrictions established by man.
So what is my response as a follower of Christ? Holy scripture assures me I will be judged on how I loved and treated my fellow brother, ala sheep and goats. I will not be judged on how patriotic I was to a country that on Judgment day will not be in existence. I will be judged on whether I practiced true religion as defined in the New testament, not whether I stood or kneeled during a song about a country. Did I speak out against injustices when I witnessed or was made aware of them? Did I treat my brothers according to the Golden Rule? Did I classify men by their skin color or Nationality? Did I pray for my enemies and all those out of my reach who are daily persecuted for their faith, not their allegiance to a country? Will I receive a robe of red, white and blue on that glorious day or a robe of pure white with neither spots or wrinkles?
There is nothing wrong with showing love and patriotism for the country you were destined to be born into. But when patriotism becomes instead nationalism, an idol has been erected and a very defined scriptural line has been crossed. Philipians is clear that Christian brothers and sisters are aliens to this world and no longer its citizens, but citizens of a heavenly kingdom anticipating the return of our supreme commander-in-chief, Christ. With that in mind, as much as one may love their country, the kingdom of God and it’s mandated treatment of its people, along with awareness and assistance for all those who are hungry, hurting, homeless, orphaned and widowed, i.e. true religion, “Trump’s” all other allegiances. While it is possible to be both patriotic and Christian, as soon as one contradicts the other, Christianity must rule as absolute law. We who are treated unjustly or are made aware of and stand, or kneel with others of our brothers who are, are not “sons of bitches”, but sons of God. We need to be sure the flag of Christ flies above the flag of country in our hearts and in our actions. Beleivers truly have no alternative response but that of Christ’s own words, love God and love others over yourselves.
I’m proud to be American, but I’m humbled, grateful and blessed to be Christian. I will honor our national anthem, but I will shed tears of privilege with my fce to the ground over Amazing Grace, my eternal anthem. Love and peace to my readers.