Updated: Jan 22, 2021
However you feel about American politics, I’m convinced:
Christians are confused about what makes a nation great.
Everyone dreams of living in a great country, but this is a day to consider - what is national greatness? Is greatness based on personal freedoms? Economic superiority? Technological innovation? Military dominance? Global influence?
We hear a lot about being great but not much talk about what great really means.
Early in the Bible, national greatness is defined:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
- Genesis 12:1-3
OK, full stop.
Greatness means “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
The great nation doesn’t seek dominance or control. It blesses. Everyone.
That's an incredible vision. All peoples... blessed...
Can you imagine?
If Jesus Were on the Ticket
If Jesus were a presidential candidate, I’m guessing he would run on this platform:
America will serve the world and love our enemies.
His kick-off press conference would be one "mic-drop" after another:
Reporter: Jesus, how will you deal with the threat of China?
Jesus: Love your enemies and pray for those who hate you that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
Are the reports true you would give away vaccine doses to poorer nations?
When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.
But, Jesus, what about "America First?"
The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.
What will be your overall foreign policy philosophy?
Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.
What is your vision to help America be a great nation?
Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.
How would you address racial turmoil in America?
Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.
What would you say to your opponents who are labeling you as idealistic and naïve?
Be as innocent as doves and shrewd as snakes.
I don’t think he would get past New Hampshire.
Jesus’ platform is unpopular; always has been.
The Bible is a merry-go-round narrative of God blessing the outsider, the foreigner, the “other” – and insiders hating it. From the first moment Jesus opened his mouth in Luke’s gospel inviting foreigners to share in God’s story to the last breath he took on the cross, people hated him because his grace rubs like sandpaper against our competitiveness, ambition and greed. The Bible is the perfect prequel to current events.
We don’t want his version of greatness.
A Postcard From Eternity
Jesus’ view of greatness is formed from the scenic overlook of eternity. There are no America First banners flying in heaven. Your earthly citizenship? Irrelevant. Nationalism? A joke. You’ll be known for your devotion to the Kingdom, not today’s kings.
Greatness = Humility
Greatness = Service
Greatness = Sacrifice
And Jesus taught us to pray saying, "...your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
It's a decision-prompting prayer: would you, given today’s culture, rather fit in here or there?
Many Christians are choosing here as opposed to there. I know, because of my own hypocrisy. In an era when Christians should call our leaders to Jesus’ definition of greatness - humility, service, sacrifice - many are doing just the opposite. Any politic ignoring peace, love, forgiveness, grace, joy and justice is not from Jesus - regardless of those attempting to co-opt his name. Meanwhile, the “non-Christian” world, especially young people, do not know Christ's version of greatness, because those deemed Christians aren't convinced it's actually worth practicing. God, help us.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to live in a great country. But what definition of greatness are you using? Jesus' or the world's? The contrast has never been more striking.
As the world grows darker it is ironically and simultaneously growing more clear:
We are called out of confusion into greatness, but Jesus' definition of that word is radically different than ours.
Reporter: Jesus, who will help you with your vision?
Jesus: The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
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