I was appalled by the images broadcast of the people who violently stormed the capitol building on January 6th. The most disturbing thing to me were the banners and flags that displayed Jesus’ name. I was especially shocked to see someone carrying the “Christian Flag” that I was familiar with from attending church during my childhood. When I saw these things being carried during a violent riot, I immediately thought, “these do NOT represent Jesus!”
I remember going to Vacation Bible School (VBS) every summer since I was very little. At the beginning of every day of VBS, we all stood and said the pledge of allegiance to the American flag, to the Christian flag, and to the Bible. Looking back on it, through the lens of the January 6th events, I now see a possible unintended consequence of VBS pledges of allegiance. A child’s mind could easily view America, God, and the Bible all on the same level.
A Christian’s ultimate loyalty is to God alone. A follower of Jesus must be a Christian first and an American second. And the second place loyalty must be a “distant second.” It is very appropriate to love our country and honor veterans who have fought to protect America, but Christians must be very careful when we put our love for country too close to our love for God. The two must never be mixed together because when they are, this kind of nationalism becomes a heresy. We are to worship God alone, not God mixed with something else.
As Jesus said, “we are to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (see Matthew 22:15-22). What is it that belongs to God?—our hearts and souls and primary loyalty.
Reflections: Have you ever put your love for country too close to your love for God? Have you ever mixed them together?
You shall have no other gods before me