Though I live in one of the most liberal states in America, every now and again a small business, say an auto repair shop or florist, will alter their sign from announcing a sale to:
PUT GOD BACK IN OUR NATION
“YOU PRAYED FOR ME TO COME TO YOUR SCHOOLS BUT THEY WON’T LET ME IN.” – GOD
Instead of inspiring frustration about our current state of affairs, these signs actually cause me to wonder – is a Christian nation even possible?
If we look to the Bible for an answer we won’t find one, at least partially because God’s people spent the majority of the Biblical years being marginalized and persecuted (and their brief times of being in power, in Old Testament days, saw them switching to the persecutor role). If anything, this oppression made the early Christians very mistrusting of power. I don’t think they’d name it evil, but they saw it as something immeasurably dangerous and wildly difficult to handle.
Some wonder what would have happened if Jesus came when the Jews weren’t under occupation (and the subsequent first Christians weren’t hunted down). However I firmly believe Jesus came to earth during that time because of the Jews place in the underside of power. The timing was not accidental.
I may be the only Christian who will ever say this – I understand why city governments across the nation are no longer erecting nativity scenes during Christmas – it’s a clear violation of the church and state separation. From what I know, why we have this separation is a reaction to the times when the church and state were one. This marriage usually led to disastrous results (violence, oppression, coercion), so when America was founded this separation was apart of the building blocks.
The problem is power tends to be obsessed with itself, and is forever scratching its own back. Standing in stark contrast, Jesus spoke of servant leadership (not in such fancy terms), and it’s a rare leader who will wash the feet of those below him. This is not something I believe you can ingrain in the culture, but only the heart.
It’d be incredibly difficult to have a nation based on Christian values – how do you make servitude and dying to self the law of the land? About the only way you can claim a nation to be Christian is to make its morality the law – which hasn’t worked out in my opinion, not just in America. Ultimately peace, grace, and servitude are very counter-intuitive ways – and you have to go out of your way to keep them, which will always make it difficult for any nation to be a Christian one.
Well, disagree away. Is there such a thing as a Christian nation? Is it possible? How could a nation be one?
(note: Just to really get some people stirred up, some of the books I’ve read that have influenced me in this regard are Jesus For President by Shane Claiborne, Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Don Golden and Rob Bell, and The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren. Go ahead and hate because they’re quasi or full on emergent)