I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, studying, reading, teaching, and writing about the Church lately. In fact, I am working on a book about the Church. I hope to have it completed by the end of the year. I don’t have a publisher yet, so, if you are interested in helping me with that, let me know.
In addition to thinking about the Church, my mind has also been on the state of our country during this presidential election year. So, what I am writing about in this post is me thinking out loud about something. I have not reached a definitive conclusion about it yet, but I am close. I would really appreciate your input. Am I on the right track or have I gone completely off the rails?
Here is what I have been thinking:
Periodically, after a tragedy like the Pulse Nightclub massacre, people talk about God judging the United States. Now that we are down to two candidates, people are talking about how God could use someone as unholy as either one of them for His purposes. These people always give Old Testament examples of ungodly kings God used. Also, during times like these, everyone likes to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I like that verse a lot, but I am not sure it really applies to us as a nation. It was given as a promise to the nation of Israel, not us.
You see, a lot of what we think about ourselves as the United States is based on the idea of American Exceptionalism. That is, somehow the United States is different and unique and superior from all other nations in the world and throughout history. Closely related to this is the idea of Manifest Destiny; that somehow are nation, since its inception, has been given a God ordained duty to spread our values and culture and way of government and way life across the world. It’s almost as if some believe the United States is the new Jerusalem, the city on a hill, or a beacon of light. As a result, it is believed, God will do for us, and protect us, as if we were the modern day equivalent of the Old Testament nation of Israel.
Well, from my limited perception, we, as a nation, are really nothing special. We are not “God’s chosen people.” We, as a nation, are not called to be salt and light. American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny are not entirely true. In reality, the United States is no more important to God than Europe, or Iraq, or Israel. This is not to say I don’t love the United States. I love her very much. “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.” I don’t want to live anywhere else. But as a nation, in God’s economy, are we really more important than any other nation? I am not convinced we are.
The way I understand Scripture, no nation is the new Jerusalem. No nation is salt or light or exceptional or can claim any type of God ordained manifest destiny. I am not to preach or teach or believe in American Exceptionalism. I am to preach and teach and believe in Ekklesia Exceptionalism. “What is that?” you may ask. Ekklesia is the Greek word for “church.” Jesus said nothing would destroy the Church, not even a dysfunctional 2016 Presidential race; not even hell itself. Thus, I am called to give me life for Church Exceptionalism and the manifest destiny of the body and bride of Christ. It is the Church (not the United States) that is the hope of the world!
The Church is greater than any nation because She crosses all borders and languages and economic and racial and gender and sexual identity barriers we may have. One day, like every other nation in history, the United States will fall and cease to exist. But not the Church!
The Church is exceptional!
The Church has a manifest destiny.
Let’s make the Church great again!