As many of you know, the Fourth of July, Independence Day, is a conflicted holiday for myself and many other Native Americans. We cannot celebrate a document that refers to us and our community as “merciless Indian Savages.” Over the past several years, I have written numerous articles regarding this.
On Sunday July 2, the Sunday that many churches were blatantly demonstrating their patriotism by reciting the pledge of allegiance and singing patriotic themed worship songs, I had the opportunity to preach at Renovation Church in Buffalo NY. I was planning to preach a sermon that I have given numerous times prior titled “The Temptations of Greatness.” However on our drive to Buffalo from DC, I began pondering God’s warnings and hopes for his people, both in the OT and the New.
I was reminded of the passage from I Samuel 8 where the people of Israel reject God and plead for an earthly king. God, the ever loving Father, tried to warn his people that they did not really want a king. But they were afraid, Samuel was old and his sons were corrupt, so they cried all the louder and pleaded for an earthly king. God warned them that a king would take their sons and daughters and enlist them in his army, he would claim right over the work of their hands, and he would send them off to fight his wars. And eventually the people would plead for relief from their own king. And God would not listen.
But the people refused. And continued pleading for a king. So God relented and told Samuel to give them one.
Does this not sound like the American Church? Have we not, in our rush to embrace whichever leader fits our particular political ideology, rejected God as our King? Jesus did not come to create an earthly kingdom. The nation will NEVER be Christian. Through Christ, God placed his favor on the Church, not a worldly kingdom. But yet we plead. We want a Christian Nation. We have rejected relationship with Creator and have instead chosen to legislate our doctrines and politically force our theologies upon the country.
The Church, both liberal and conservative, has allowed our role to be reduced to little more than political lobbyists or partisan protesters instead of the independent prophetic voice we are called to be. We have not been able to give up our dream of someday living in a Christian Nation. But we need to trust Jesus. We need to take him at his word when he repeatedly warned his disciples, you don’ want another worldly kingdom.
When John the Baptist heard that Jesus was healing the servants of Roman Centurions and raising the children of lowly widows from the dead, he sent his disciples to ask him “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus did not fit John’s picture. He was expecting a political Messiah. Jesus was aware of this, but he also knew that he did not come to establish another worldly kingdom. So he responded to John’s question by curing many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and he gave sight to many who were blind. And he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Luke 7:18-23)
God has so much love, mercy, grace, healing and life that he wants to pour out on the world through his followers and his Church. But we cannot participate if our goal is to establish political power and create a Christian Nation. We have to decide.
And so my sermon on this July Fourth weekend, directed squarely at our churches throughout this country, was titled: “You don’t want to live in a Christian Nation.”
The message was posted by Renovation Church on FB. I welcome you to listen.