I grew up proud to be an American. Proud of our founding fathers, proud of our style of government, proud of our freedom and prosperity. I grew up in a church where military men & women were treated like rockstars and where we sang patriotic songs as much as we sang hymns.
I do not know that I would say anymore that I am PROUD to be an American. Before you stop reading, hear me out.
I am a patriot: I love so much about America. I am the daughter of an Airman and am married to a former Marine. I love hamburgers and apple pie, our mountains and our beaches, our diversity and our value of education, our art, our literature, our music...I could go on and on. And there is much that I enjoy as far as physical freedom and opportunity that is courtesy of my citizenship in this country. A country where men and women have fought and died to protect the principles of democracy, liberty, and peace. I do not take that sacrifice lightly. I am grateful. I love being American.
But am I proud? How can I be proud of something I do not deserve? Frankly, how can we as a country, be proud of things we do not deserve?
Ultimately, our freedom is a gift. Many people & nations fight for freedom, and never get it. Why do we Americans get to blessed with it when others do not? Why do we enjoy the privileges we do?---Because we're better? smarter? more deserving because we work harder or have greater ideals? or--an even more sickening thought--because we are a Christian nation? Are we--a Christian nation?? Is this what you believe?
Because I look at my nation some days, and I weep. I weep that we have rebelled and turned our backs on God. And do not misunderstand me. I am not talking about rebellion in the form of abortion, lack of prayer in school, or homosexual marriages. I am talking about our idolatry in all forms: our love of our stuff, our pursuit of the American dream and our belief that we deserve a life of comfort, prosperity, and self fulfillment--however that manifests itself. We are far from deserving of His grace and protection, as individuals or as a nation. This country provides me with a justified pursuit of my own selfish desires, under the guise of capitalism and an American work ethic. I get to be self-centered and be declared to be living "the American dream". While I agree our democracy and ideals are beneficial to me, they are far from godly.
There is only one godly nation. It is a monarchy. It is invisible-- but it's Ruler is no less real and it's subjects no less obligated to submission to His rule. This nation spans the globe, and being a citizen has nothing to do with where you were born or what advantages you enjoy. This nation does not propose that every man has the inalienable right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. Instead, it offers death to self, a life of servitude, and no guarantee of safety or prosperity. This, THIS nation, is where my allegiance lies.
I believe a sovereign God sits on a throne, and for whatever reason (namely, His glory), He has chosen to pour wealth and prosperity and freedom on America. I wonder...but for how long, Lord? How long will you withhold the judgment that is due us, a people who have bowed to other idols and worship created things instead of their Creator? Our freedoms and wealth are gifts from a sovereign God, who--I believe--would whisper to us, that to whom much is given, much is required.
Somewhere across the ocean is a child who was not born in this country. Not born into the same benefit and opportunity and prosperity that my four biological children enjoy. This child has known poverty and need, probably loss and maybe despair. Within the next year, this child will become an American citizen. What will I say, to him/her, about being American?
Is it better than being Ethiopian? Should my child be more proud of their American citizenship than his/her African heritage, tainted with need and injustice? Is it better to live in a prosperous nation with unlimited opportunities? Is it better to have the lavish, abundant resources we consume in wanton freedom and excess?
I'll be honest. Sometimes I wrestle with that question, of what is better. Things I am sure of: it is better to have a family. It is better to not be hungry. It is better to have health care and education and clean water. But even these things, are nothing, hear me, nothing--of no value--without Jesus. They only serve to prolong a physical life of despair and need and brokenness that will never be healed without a spiritual remedy.
I will encourage my child to enjoy the rich heritage and culture of both countries. I will tell him/her that more is not always better. I will let them try a hamburger and I will take them out for injera as often as possible. I will teach my child to be grateful for the way God has shaped and molded his/her life in the shadow of two beautiful countries.
But more than anything, I will teach my child about a King who offers citizenship to a Kingdom, courtesy of His redemption of us as sinners and His adoption of us as children. And I will tell him/her that this Kingdom offers all he/she will ever really need. Jesus.
Today, I do not hold my head up with pride in my nationality. Instead, I fall on my face, in humble gratitude for the ways the Lord has chosen to pour grace in my life, and pray that I honor His gospel by proclaiming it both here in America and to all peoples of all nations.
I will not boast in anythingAnd this, friends, is true freedom.
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.