Let me start by saying, I am not an American. This is not me distancing myself from my southern cousins or attempting to make some type of political statement, it is just context for the reader. I do not write from experience but instead I write from observation. I have not lived in your country nor have I spent enough time studying the historical and cultural influences that dominate the evolution of your society.
Long before the United States of America there was a group of people who were called to be one nation under God.
Let me start by saying, I am not a Jew. This is not me distancing myself from the chosen people of God or attempting to make some type of political statement, it is just context for the reader. I do not write from experience but instead I write from observation. I have not lived in your country nor have I spent enough time studying the historical and cultural influences that dominate the evolution of your society, although the Bible has given me a peek into some things. What I can say is you were to be one nation under God.
I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. Leviticus 26:12 (NIV)
There is a biblical record of a nation being “under God” and it didn’t turn out the way God intended. Often when a group becomes so entangled with God and His purpose, it evolves beyond God and His purpose. In Israel’s case, they were a nation, just as America is today and both started off entangled with God and His purpose. On a smaller scale, some denominations, parachurch ministries and cults have started out entangled with God and His purpose but evolved beyond God and His purpose. Evolution is most often used to describe a move from a lesser form to a greater form but there is no greater form than being entangled with God and His purpose.
To truly be under God you must be a representative of Him to the world around you.
The sentiment is wonderful and the historical context is logical but the evolution has not born out the words “one nation under God.” I wish this was a one country attack, not because I am a Canadian trying to make my country look better than America but because I wish there was only one country that evolved this way. It started with the children of Israel then the Roman Empire followed by the French and British Empires, which includes my country Canada, and the United States of America. It starts with a desire to be Godly to fulfil His purpose as a group of people and ends with that group of people evolving beyond the God they said they are under. They no longer represent the way of God but instead represent the way of man.
Feel attacked? We all should because we all have part of our faith entangled in a group, institution, relationships and possibly our country.
My wife’s father and my wife’s maternal great grandfather are both American born. My wife, her mother, her mother’s parents, my parents and their parents, our children and their children are all Canadian born. None of us are under God because of our birthplace, who we marry, who our parents were or where we reside. We will all come under God’s judgement but only those who follow Christ are under God and His purpose for their lives. No country or institution, no lineage or faith group can instantly place us under God as willing, obedient servants who represent Him and His purpose.
Belonging to a group can lead to arrogance, belonging to God requires humility.
The history of the children of Israel exposed the evolution that propelled them to act on their own ideas of what it is to live right. God called them stiff-necked and arrogant as they followed the gods of the people around them and made gods of their own. The starting point was one nation under God but once they evolved beyond what they saw as the limitations of the true God they created religions that fit their desires.
For many the same has happened in their groups, institutions and families. Once defined by the limitations placed on them by a loving God, church denominations, service groups, marriages, families and countries have become self-reliant and self-centered, seeking their own ways of doing things and their own gods to worship. In a group we will find likeminded people who, when truly following God will help us become humble worshipers of the Him. In a group we will also find likeminded people who, when following their own ideas will help us become arrogant followers of ourselves.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
Let’s celebrate the great history and achievements of our countries but let’s embrace the purpose of God so that the history and achievements of man do not replace the achievement of God through the cross.
Adapted from the original post July 4 2017