Today we begin a voyage, a journey if you will, to the heart of statements that have found a home in our thinking. The problem is that these statements, beliefs, or general understandings may not be true. We live in a world of narrative and spin. Everyday through social media and being in constant connection to the media outlets of our day we are bombarded with narrative. It’s important to understand the power of narrative because narrative isn’t something you see, it’s not anything you can touch, but it subtly shapes the world we live in. We hear things, believe them, act upon our beliefs, and slowly begin to create a world that aligns with the narratives we believe. That’s why there is such a strong push to control what people hear and have access to. Whoever controls the narrative in some ways has the ability to begin to shape the world. Which brings me to the point of this series of articles. There are false narratives that are affecting the beliefs of people who then are acting or sometimes worse, taking no action, because of wrong beliefs shaped by these false narratives.
For our first narrative I would like to discuss the phrase Christian Nationalism.
Lie #1 – Christian Nationalism is a Threat to our Nation
I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with the phrase “Christian Nationalism” until recently. I’m thinking that I became familiar with the phrase within the past 2-3 years. I may have known the phrase longer, but over the past couple of years it has gained much more prominence in our national narrative. There are entire books dedicated to the phrase Christian Nationalism. My first perception of Christian Nationalism was a negative one. Probably because the popular narrative around this phrase is extremely negative. Over time as I began to assess this phrase it caused me to reassess my feelings toward it. In all honesty I had to admit that my feelings were being shaped by a narrative, but not by understanding from God’s word. As I began to research and study not what culture says, but what God’s word says it reframed my view on the phrase Christian Nationalism.
First, let’s define a nationalist which is where the term nationalism comes from. A nationalist is someone who supports the freedom of their nation from other nations and has a strong interest in the activity and interest of the nation. In other words, most everyone who has ever voted or participated in someway in our nation is a nationalist. Secondly, if you are a Christian aka someone who follows Jesus, and believes the Bible to be the truth of the Word of God you are a Christian Nationalist. You are also a great threat to our country in the popular thought on Christian Nationalism. My point in defining this is to say that roughly 80% of our nation identifies as a Christian and my feeling is the majority of them vote. Whether or not we vote our Christian values is a topic for another day, but what it means is the majority of our nation is people who identify as Christians who are engaged in activity of our nation. Recently President Joe Biden caused a bit of a stir when he said of our military personnel serving in Afghanistan that they had answered the call to go and serve. In making this statement he quoted the prophet Isaiah and used the scripture “here I am Lord, send me.” People took issue with this because certainly it wasn’t the context that Isaiah was referring to. However, I personally don’t believe he was way off base. For many people serving in the military they may have felt it was a call of God on their life. I believe serving in our military is a noble calling and one to be celebrated. So what was taking place when a President quoted a Bible verse talking about people serving in the military. It was Christian Nationalism.
Here’s my observation from pondering the national discourse that takes place around this topic.
People tend to only have a problem with Christian Nationalism when it conflicts with their political activism.
Everyone is fine using the Bible when they feel it aligns with their political views. If someone needs to pull a Bible verse to support their political views then it’s completely appropriate to do so. However, if you use the Bible to conflict one of their other political beliefs the cry back is Christian Nationalism and you are a threat to the democracy. It’s ironic, but many people who are negative towards Christian Nationalism come from a standpoint of being a Christian and being engaged in the political activity of our nation. In other words, they are being a Christian Nationalist while condemning others for being a Christian Nationalist.
I believe the church needs to embrace it’s role as being both fully committed to the principles of Christianity and also very active in the activity and direction of our nation. One of the last things Jesus told his followers to do was to play a role in discipling the nations.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew 28:19 NLT
Here’s 3 reasons we should live out our Christianity on the national scene:
1. There is no place of spiritual neutrality.
We are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world. If you turn the lights off darkness takes over. We need to recognize that we have a leadership role in the world. We are to bring Jesus to the world and advance the kingdom of God in every sphere of influence in society. If Christians abandon or surrender different segments of society those places don’t stay spiritually neutral. If we abandon politics governments don’t become this magically utopian space where people get treated fairly and everyone gets a unicorn. They become a space filled with darkness, authoritarianism, and an uncontrolled thirst for more power. The Bible makes everything better. Christianity makes everything better. God’s kingdom advancing into every sector of society makes everything better. Let’s assume our leadership role in the world and advance the principles of God’s kingdom in our nation. The Bible says it rains on the just and the unjust. People who aren’t even followers of Jesus get blessed when the righteous are leading our nation. It’s not true when you reverse the scenario. People are very vocal against Christians taking positions of prominence and power. That’s because the enemy hates to lose. Let’s remember we are on the winning side and walk with confidence.
2. There is a battle for territory.
Everyone looks to government because it is the highest form of power and authority on earth. As Christians we should look a little higher. There is a kingdom of darkness and a kingdom of light. We are called to be representatives and ambassadors of Christ on the earth. Not to belabor the point, but how much of a failure is it if there are no ambassadors and representatives of Christ in our national leadership? Jesus didn’t come to overthrow the governments of the world. There will be a day when the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our Lord and Christ. However, I believe most people have a flaw in their theology. It’s true Jesus didn’t come to overthrow the Roman Empire, but evidently he did come to influence it and take it over. I can say that confidently because that’s exactly what Christianity and the early church did. Governments without the influence of Christianity are dark, very dark entities. We need to represent well the kingdom of King Jesus within the government of our nation.
3. We speak truth to power
The Bible, among other things, is basically prophets and preachers speaking truth to the world in which they lived. In some instances it was to audiences who were receptive and in some instances it was a tearful prophet like Jeremiah speaking to an audience that didn’t want to hear it. I think we’ve lost a little bit of our moxie. Let’s rediscover the conviction of saying “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Let’s rediscover our prophetic edge to speak the truth in love to the world we are called to serve. Here’s an understanding many believers need to receive. We’re the good guys. Is the church perfect? Certainly not, but do we have the truth of God’s word? Yes, yes we do. Is the truths of Christianity superior to any other belief system? Yes, yes they are. The nation is better when the church finds its voice. Not to speak down to people, belittle them, or even to heap condemnation on them. The church needs to find its voice to lift our nation by lifting up the principles of God’s word.
You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. You are a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. And I would also say, it should not be hidden.