“My dream is of a place and time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Let’s Take America Back!” They Say
In the midst of all the talk of terrorism, security, gun control, and refugees, I have noticed something else.
All of this has prompted many to echo Lincoln’s sentiments with statements like, “We need to take America back to the Christian principles it was founded on!”
I have said similar things. As a matter of fact, I would not have even written this post during the 2012 Presedential Election. I put a lot of stock into the future of our nation. To me, America had to “go back to its roots”. It had to “become the hope of earth”.
Now, while there is nothing inherently wrong in statements like those, I began to wonder where they could lead. Could there be danger in “taking back America”?
My fear is that many Christians will begin to worry far too much about America and what it becomes; that too many will believe it all depends on us as a nation.
My fear is of questions like, “If the U.S. is not the hope of the world, who will be?”
What if I told you that it does not really matter?
What if I told you that earth has no earthly hope, even in America?
What if I told you that we do not even belong here?
Is This Land My Land?
The reality is that, for believers of the Gospel of Christ, we are citizens of heaven – not America. (Philippians 3:20-21) After all, Jesus himself said that his kingdom, of which we are a part, is not of this world. (John 18:36)
And the Bible emphasizes that we are travelers simply passing through on our way home. As C.S. Lewis famously put it in Mere Christianity,
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis
In Christ, we are made for heaven. In a sense, all Christians are refugees, fleeing from the domain of darkness and toward Jesus Christ’s kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13-14). But America is not the ultimate destination. That awaits us with Christ.
That can be easy to forget, though. Sometimes we miss it, and we see the only hope of earth as not coming with Christ, but already here with us.
This can be dangerous.
For the Record: I Love America
Now please, don’t misunderstand me – I am not hating on the U.S. I am not anti-America. I am grateful to live where I do, and I do not take my nation and its history for granted.
Having former and current military members in my family, I am aware of the great cost of the freedom I enjoy – even to write this post! America has been great!
Also, of course, as Christians we are supposed to affect change around us. (Matthew 5:16) We spread the Gospel and see transformation happen because of it. (Matthew 28:18-20) I am not suggesting giving up or being lazy.
Just be careful to remember that this is not home. Don’t make America an idol. Christ’s kingdom is coming and all nations, even the United States of America, will fall before it. (Psalm 2:7-9)
This is promised to us in the Gospel – this is our hope!
Though she now acts as refuge for some of its citizens, America is not the kingdom of heaven.
What I am asking is this: do not place all of your trust and hope in her like she is heaven. Your trust and hope belong to Christ, and he is coming.
Do not place a weight on her that she was not made for. She will not be able to bear it.