By Mark A. Taylor
Why devote so many pages, words, and ink to a question that can be answered with just one word?
Can a Christian be a patriot? Yes! With two more words, let us be clear: of course! Readers of articles this month should not see any anti-Americanism here.
But these articles offer a plea for us to put our patriotism in perspective: To thank God for America without assuming America is at the center of his will for the world. To ask God to bless America without believing that America’s interests are always God’s purposes. To respect the American flag, but to worship God. To celebrate the courage and sacrifice contained in America’s history, but to acknowledge dark and shameful episodes there too. To agitate and campaign for political causes and candidates we believe are best, but to give up the misguided notion that Christian governors will somehow make this a Christian nation.
We need not be cynical about America, but we can be realistic.
We can recognize America’s greatness without ignoring the selfishness, corruption, and pride that are a part of the American story.
We can work with government and government officials while remaining fully aware of the dysfunction and failings we’ll find at every turn.
We can acknowledge that power, money, and pride always lead to abuse and that this happens in every sector of American life.
But we can work for the good of our country and our countrymen as salt, light, and leaven in a troubled land. Never in our lifetime has America more needed to hear the hope of the gospel and to see the love of Jesus.
Years ago I spoke with a Christian leader in the Middle East who had been educated in America. “I will always be grateful for your country,” he told me. “First, because that is where I discovered Christ. And second, because of your Bill of Rights.”
Americans can thank God for our opportunity to gather, to read, to speak, to worship. We can share the gospel in ways my Middle Eastern acquaintance cannot. We can publicly point people to Jesus in a time when so many Christians live in countries where they must evangelize in secret. We can post baptism videos at our websites; but where my new friend lives, Muslims converting to Christ sneak away in the dark of night to be baptized where no one will see.
Thank God for America? Again we answer yes. But God is waiting for us to do more. Now is the time for Christians to use their freedom to lift up his name in this land we love, a place where so many do not know him.