I had started an essay some months ago about God’s Country. I never finished it. There are people in every state that get a glassy look in their eyes and mumble something about living in God’s country. Have they ever lived anywhere else? In too many cases they have always stayed near home. It is comfortable here and scary out there. I may complete that essay someday, to compare and contrast people who leave home and those who stay, those who vacation around the world versus those who work with people around the world. There are a lot of ways to observe the differences in culture, and being different doesn’t necessarily mean “wrong.” (Wow! Could our country learn that one thing right now!)
But I’m thinking of a problem that stems from the mindset of God’s Country.
It is a good thing that we feel at home where we are planted. It helps with our self-esteem. It gives us comfort.
But when we assign the label “God’s Country” to our home, what are we doing? There could be several motivations for doing so. For a believer, it could be a fervent prayer that God bless this home sweet home. In a recent blog by Julie (aka Cookie), she quoted St. Augustine, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” The people to which St. Augustine are referring have created their own god to watch over their little spot on Earth. Yet others might have faith in the soil, in their local and federal governments as being God ordained. For them, it may become a nightmare, especially within the last two years in our country.
I’m not bashing the USA. I am fearful that a country founded by God-fearing men (A lot has been written about the few who were Deists instead of Christians, but all God-fearing.) could stray so far, and everyone has insisted that their side is the only side. We’ve gone from having slight differences in opinion, to being right and wrong, and finally to being the only way and all others are excrement that will be cleaned from the soles of our shoes.
The US Senate has 100 senators. They don’t seem to be united on anything. Do we have 100 fiefdoms? Can anyone agree on anything? The important things to consider are 1) when God looks down on what is happening, is He saddened by what He sees? And 2) do we as citizens have any confidence in any of our leaders?
I don’t want this to be a political essay. I’m not trying to take sides on any issue. It is the long list of issues where people put up fences and ramparts and armed camps. It’s time that we love one another, outside the issues. I have friends on Facebook who say things that offend me (both extremes at times). I don’t comment. We don’t need battles. We need harmony and the willingness to be friends who have differing opinions.
Yet, I struggle. I was a Cub Scout when I was young. When I took the Cub Scout oath, a scout was “square.” That meant you obeyed the rules, you were dressed properly, you helped others, etc. With the counter culture of the late 60s, the BSA changed the oath to remove those words. “Square” had come to mean something else. I am an Eagle Scout. “On my honor, I will do my duty, to God and my country…” There is the rub. I was taught at that impressionable age that the two words went together. There comes a time when God and Country go in different directions. Will we have a modern Jeremiah in this country who is told by God to not waste his time praying for these people (Jeremiah 7:16-18)?
I didn’t have to memorize MacArthur’s speech as West Pointers do, but in ROTC we studied it carefully. People listen to or read Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address to the cadets at West Point and blend God into the speech. His three words that were the driving force of his career were “Duty, Honor, Country.” He delivers the speech so reverently that you feel a presence of an adoration of “Duty, Honor, Country” that transcends any adoration of God. You hear his speech and you think, ‘where do I sign up?’
But there are two distinct different foci here. God and Country aren’t synonymous. We should strive for it to be so, but they are not. As humans, we can make mistakes. Look at God’s chosen people and the long list of kings. Some kings of Judah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and other kings did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. It was king Joash (2 Kings 11) who rebuilt the temple. He did well in passing on good values to the following generations so that there was 100 years of good kings in Judah. Even after, bad king Ahaz reigned for 16 years, Hezekiah was another good king. In 2 Kings 22, we see a bizarre story of finding the ancient writings during the reign of king Josiah. Josiah had the Word of God read to the people, the people repented, and the kingdom was safe during his reign, but there never was another good king in Judah upon Josiah’s death. Our country would rather argue whether this or that was really a sin than to repent before God.
Why go through this history lesson? We need to separate our faith in a worldly government and our faith in God. Whether you are for or against a strong national defense, we all place our faith in the military to keep us safe, but we should place a greater faith that God will see us through even if the country falls apart. Will we have a Joash? Instead of rebuilding the temple, our modern Joash leads a revival for us to focus on God and His good works. Will it cause our nation to survive another 100 years? I pray so for my grandchildren’s sake. Or will we have the short-lived revival of a Josiah who reads the scripture to the people, and it’s the first time that they have ever heard it. They are too far gone for lasting change. They’ve developed too many bad habits.
Don’t get me wrong. I have worked in a variety of foreign countries on three different continents. I would rather live here than any other place. But I am never going to look back toward any place on earth as God’s Country once the gate of heaven stands open in front of me. That is the only true God’s Country.