Monday, February 16, 2015

Which God? Whose Country?

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyonefor emperors and all who are in high positions, so that we (all) may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.  

"This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  

"For there is one God;
there is also one mediator 
between God and (all) humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human, 

who gave himself a ransom for all."

 - Paul, to believers under Nero (I Timothy 2:1-5, NRSV, emphases mine)

Throughout time, individual nations have claimed that God is on their side, fighting their battles, defending their principles and elevating their importance.

I dearly love the country of my birth, regularly pray for its well being (and well doing) and appreciate its many benefits, much as I hope people in other nations feel about their own native land.

I also want to be aware of my country's flaws and will always urge it to live up to its own best ideals.

Abraham Lincoln is alleged to have said, "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side." Whether or not that is an actual quote, we all need to be humble about claiming any special favor with the Almighty, and avoid the idolatries of exceptionalism and hyper-nationalism.

From a Biblical perspective, nations are a temporary necessity, a "drop in a bucket" of minor importance. God's ultimate goal is one of having the whole earth become one great kingdom of justice and peace, where warring nations will beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more.

Until then, we do well to heed the words of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the following in the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom in 1977, enacted into law in January 16, 1786:

"That the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time."

(2nd paragraph, Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom)

Here's a link to more posts on God and government.
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