Yesterday I wrote about how my New Testament professor, Bob Lowery, changed my life in a class on the book of Revelation. Part of this change was in challenging the view I was always taught that America is blessed by God. Growing up, being a Christian and an American went hand in hand. If you were not called into pastoral ministry, the next best thing was the military. We sang patriotic songs in church on American holidays. There was no question that God favored America.
Then I read Revelation, saw the Roman Empire called a beast. And, to make a long story short, the closest thing to an all powerful empire in the world today was America. What if our biggest sin was nationalism? Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, demands our ultimate allegiance yet we essentially put our patriotism right on the throne with him. The same temptation that faced the first Christians who read Revelation – to buy fully into what the Empire was selling – is what we face today.
One book that brought this home to me was Greg Boyd’s Myth of a Christian Nation. Boyd calls on Christians to be more critical of our country, and from that to be fully allied to the Lamb that was slain.
I’m not going to say, as some may be thinking, that America is evil. The point is simply that America is no different than any nation or empire in history. There is some good, perhaps much good, but also much that is not good. The only perfect kingdom is God’s. And as Jesus said, you cannot serve two masters. Boyd has challenged me in this and among his books, this one is the one that impacted me most.