My heart hurts for America. And not just for the America that we’ve become, but also for the America that we always thought we were. The America of the past is romanticized, but even in its brightest moments, there has always been darkness.
But the America we’ve become, that’s a new story. A repeat of parts of the past but with more division, more violence, more publicity, and more places for people to brush over half-information and form an opinion. The ever-unattainable American dream is now a faded memory, but maybe that’s because it was never truly what we should have been chasing after.
Let’s get one thing straight–America is not a Christian nation. America started out as a nation of some Christians, but mostly it started out as a nation of people who were tired of oppression and discrimination and leaders who pushed people around and manipulated citizens. But a nation run by broken people will always run into the same problems that humanity has struggled with throughout time: oppression, discrimination, corrupt and manipulative leaders, hatred, violence, etc.
But now, more than ever, America is not a Christian nation. The church is losing its ground, but more than that, the message of Christ is being lost amidst the yelling and screaming Christians are doing in the public sector–at protests, on pulpits, on social media, in conversations with both friends and strangers. Christians are poised with closed fits and angry mouths instead of open arms and words that give life.
Worst of all, churches and Christians have been chasing all the wrong things–the American dream, the perfect job, family, car, wardrobe, home. We’re fighting for our own rights, our entitlement. We’re fighting for our voices to be heard, but those voices aren’t speaking life-giving, love-showing words. They’re dividing and tearing down and making fun.
Once upon a time, Christians used to be some of the most spiteful, hateful people at public shamings. (Don’t believe me? Read this.) And now, with social media, not much has changed. And even more tragic than what’s coming out of our mouths is what’s happening in our hearts. Christ is no longer King. He has taken second place to citizenship, to nationality, to political party, to denomination, to personal priorities.
It takes two seconds to type out a thoughtless response that spews hate, but it takes patience and discipline and wisdom to chose to reply with respect and graciousness, or not reply at all. “Out of the mouth flows the heart,” said one candidate. And that’s true for more than just presidential candidates.
Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Luke 6:45 – “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Matthew 12:34-35 – “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”
Matthew 15:18 – “ But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”
The leader we should be looking to isn’t on any election ballot. Christians should be Christ-followers first, above all else. We’re on the same team. We’re fighting the same fight. We have the same goal, the same grace, the same hope. We have a truth that is deeper and more absolute than anything a fact checker can find. We have a sovereign God who has never lost sight of His plan for His people. His victory is not over America; it’s over our wretched, sinful human hearts. He has won, and we can no longer continue to live in fear, hatred, and spite and still claim Christ as King.
America,–Christians,–“we are broken; we are bitter; we’re the problem; we’re the politicians, watching for our sky to get torn apart.” We’re chasing the wrong dream; we’re fighting for the wrong things. What we forget is that this fight isn’t just about an election. It’s not for the presidency; it’s not for Congressional seats. It’s not for right wing or left wing. It’s not for the economy or national security. It’s not for human or civil rights. It’s not for any sort of freedom.
The fight is for our souls.
So, America, who are you? Who are you really? Are we a nation of hate and violence? Are we divided and ruled by fear? What do we find our hope in? America will never be a “Christian nation,” but it can be a nation filled with Christ-followers who give generously, seek both justice AND mercy, and who truly love their neighbors, literal and figurative, no matter who they are or where they are from, citizens and non-citizens alike. A nation of people who overflow with love for others that comes from the outpouring of love God showed to us by sacrificing Himself for the sake of our souls and asking for nothing in return. And the real question–Christians in America, who are we really? Who is the ruler of our hearts?
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20 ESV).