America is Not the Light…

” …even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:4-10 ESV)

I had a hard time feeling very patriotic on the 4th of July.  Not just because of the political upheaval surrounding the upcoming infamous election (although that certainly doesn’t help my less than patriotic disposition.) Don’t get me wrong, I am so very thankful to live in a country where, at least for now, I am free to gather and worship Jesus, and I can write what I think without threat of censorship, punishment or worse.  I am so very grateful to the men and women who have risked and even lost their lives so that you and I may maintain our freedoms.

But as a Christian, a Christ-follower, a daughter of God, my primary allegiance is to the family that I now belong to. This family isn’t just flesh and blood. It’s not merely a local church. I was adopted into this family through no good works of my own, but by the precious blood of Jesus–through his life, death and resurrection he signed my adoption papers and I stand WITH him before God. United with my brothers and sisters from across the globe. I have had the privilege of worshipping with believers in Panama, in Tokyo, and in Austria all in their native cultures and tongues. I’ve also worshiped with believers from around the globe on my college campus in Nebraska. I’ve worshiped with those in poverty, and in extreme wealth. But we stood shoulder to shoulder, together praising the one God who is worthy of praise. 

American Christian, when our idea of being adopted into God’s family truly takes root in our hearts, we start to see that this family, this brotherhood of believers is so. much. bigger. As we gather in our local bodies on Sunday mornings, or to pray on a Thursday night, we must remember that we have brothers and sisters on the other side of the globe, praying in secret. Memorizing the Word because they might be killed if they are found with a copy. Being told they can no longer share their faith. With anyone. America is not the answer. Mere politics cannot rescue them. Only Jesus is their hope. I’m sure they know that better than anyone.

Being adopted in this global family changes our identity. We get an entirely new set of DNA. We share that new DNA with brothers and sisters in Egypt. Taiwan. China. Germany. RussiaTurkey. They may look, sound, and act nothing like me, but they are my blood relatives. We have all been adopted together. I no longer value my American heritage over my relation to this new family spread across the globe. Across history. I am a Christian. I just happen to reside in America. For now. But my true home is coming.

We tread in dangerous waters when we read the “you”s of the Bible as singular. Written to me. I cannot substitute my name, or anyone else’s name for that matter into it. God’s promises are not to ME individually, or even “you” as a small local body of believers.  Or even “you” as a singular country. It is a plural “you.” Written to the entire group. The entire family shares in the “you” here.  My husband often jokes that the southern “Ya’ll” is actually a biblical term. My local church in safe, suburban upstate New York is not the “city on a hill” Jesus was referring to in Matthew 5. My local body is not the light of the world. At least, not alone. But this new, vastly different and yet somehow together body of believers whom I now am privileged to call family…when we are introducing people to the true Light of the World (his name is Jesus)…now we, all of us together, are the city on a hill, giving light to the whole house. 

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)

So be encouraged, American Christian, during one of the most ridiculous political seasons I’ve ever experienced. A new president is not our hope. Conservative supreme court justices will not rescue us. A republican Senate or House will not ensure greatness and safety. We have a King who resides as the head of our family, and he is ever present. Ever watching. Ever caring. His name is Jesus and his name will be made great. 

“Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ (Isaiah 45:20-23 ESV)


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