Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My Changing View of America

Reprinted with permission:

I've been thinking all wrong! I've been wondering who America is and what America has become, trying to find a national destiny if one even existed any more. America is not the America of my grandparents...not by a long shot. Did you ever see a Norman Rockwell painting of an an African American family on vacation at the beach? How about an Asian American family with the grandmother in the back of a Woody heading for the north woods? Or what about a Mexican American boy looking googly-eyed at his Arab American girlfriend over ice cream sodas in the corner drug store. Or how about a Caucasian husband, carving knife and fork in hand, practically drooling over a Thanksgiving turkey his ebony wife is lowering onto the holiday table surrounded by their mixed race children with black grandparents and white grandparents grinning and looking on with delight?

Who are we? What are we? Can anyone tell?

I have made the mistake...and I'm just realizing it...in believing that America's identity lies in its past somewhere where things and people were better, but that is a fallacy. There has been trouble and evil all through history in every culture and civilization, and America is no different. It just hurts more because America has had an opportunity to be a nation of promise, hope and freedom and is using that freedom to make itself nominal. We are Rome. We are Greece. We are Good. We are Evil. But no nation has done better. Many have done worse. America is becoming what it is to be.

I have, until today, been frustrated by the mixing of cultures (notice I did not say "races") that, to my mind, erodes the spiritual bedrock upon which America was founded. But today, for the first time, I saw what America truly is...and I cried at my hardness of heart, lack of understanding and selfish, short-minded thinking.

Instead of a confusing mass of people with nothing in common generally, I saw today a glimpse of Heaven. And, even though Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America, this melting pot we call The United Sates of America is surely a representation of heaven with its diversity of men, angels and creatures; a diversity that makes us complete, not separate. It is love that is missing in America, not not the right political party or candidate.

Every time we say to ourselves or others, "If so and so gets in office it will mark the beginning of the end," we should step back and lecture ourselves on how to trust God again. The Lord won't allow great things to go amiss in our country if his people seek him. At the same time, we can't change the direction of our country by simply voting for a particular presidential candidate, we must influence our country's direction more by becoming involved in life at a local level, at a heart level. Instead, however, many take the lazy approach and only get amped up about the major elections and the like. It is similar with Christians who go to church and prophesy or preach or teach or simply complain and yet don't do anything outside the church.

Think of what we are really saying when we argue over politics. Are we suggesting that a particular political party is more godly than another? Is there not great fault among us all? And how can we ever change the world through politics? Obviously the platforms represented by politicians can change society, but do the platforms change the hearts of those in the society?

Christians have benefited from the political environment created in the United States but perhaps to their own detriment. We are not the new Israel. Our nation is not simply a piece of geography on the North American continent. Our home is not of this world, it is a spiritual kingdom. Are we really any earthly good according to how God measures goodness? We're really good at becoming indignant, and we're very accomplished at threatening with God's judgement, but how good are we at living life the way Jesus and the prophets have laid it out?

We should vote. We should have opinions...strong ones, but we should not fear for the future because a particular candidate gets in office. That reveals a lack of trust in the Lord. He is in control and will have his way in the earth. And although we may speed his will with our obedience, or delay his will with our rebellion, His will be done. God's works are more evident in hard times, so why should we dread them? He says he can work better through the weak than through the strong, so why should we fear not being as powerful as another nation? He says we should pray for our enemies, so why don't we?

The next time we are tempted to become animated over politics, we should ask ourselves when was the last time we committed an act of charity? Have we changed the world around us? Made an impact on a neighbor? What will change for the better in our spiritual lives if our candidate gets in office? Pray for America and our leaders. Pray that we will come to repentance as a nation without having to endure terrible hardship. Pray that God will show his love to our enemies, for if we can't do this, there is no hope for us at all. And if we do, the Lord will truly be glorified through us!

In Christ,

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