I know, I know, you’re shocked to see such a blog title on the page of such a confirmed and convicted Christian. But the concept of “Christian Nation” is a myth. It is bogus. It is wrong. We shouldn’t endorse it. We shouldn’t keep passing it around. I’m convinced Satan is using the concept to divide the church.
Please, keep reading if you want to find out why I say all of this.
If by “Christian Nation” you mean a nation whose founding fathers used biblical principles to guide a lot of what they did, I have no arguments. If by “Christian Nation” you mean a nation whose founding fathers believed they were Christians, I have no arguments. Most of them claimed to be Christian.
However, it seems to me most modern Christians leap from these ideas to thinking of America as Christ’s nation. This just isn’t true. There is no such thing, at least not in the physical realm.
Misusing Bible Passages
During an election year you’ll hear Psalm 33:12 touted again and again:
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!”
This verse is absolutely true, but doesn’t have a single thing to do with any nation on earth today, not even the USA. This verse was about Old Covenant Israel. It was not a blessing on any nation who claimed Jehovah as their God. It was about the Jewish nation. That was the nation He had chosen as His heritage. The point was that they needed to follow Him and keep Him as their God or they wouldn’t receive the blessing of being His heritage.
Whether most Americans are Christians or not, whether our laws reflect the Bible or not, this verse has nothing to do with the American nation and Christians need to quit using it that way.
Another misused passage is Proverbs 14:34:
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”
I don’t doubt that any nation who mainly pursues righteousness will be exalted before God even today. I also don’t doubt that if a nation in the main pursues sin it suffers reproach before God. Proverbs contains universal wisdom for all time, but we learn that wisdom by first keeping it within its Old Covenant context. Once again, the proverbialist was reminding the Jews that they were God’s nation and must maintain their relationship with God. This was written in a time when nations had their differing gods. Consider the story in I Kings 20:23-30 to see the mindset. Judah needed to pursue righteousness or they would fall before the other nations, but if they were righteous, the other nations would fall before them because of sin.
But the bigger problem with how Christians use this verse today is thinking that God thinks in terms of nations today. Allow me to clarify. I do think God works in the world today. I do believe God establishes the governing authorities today. But we need to see a fundamental shift from the time these Old Covenant passages were written and today. Under the Old Covenant, God had a nation. It was a civil, material, physical nation. It had land and boundaries. Its citizens were part of a kingdom of this world. But when Jesus Christ died, that was erased. Christ doesn’t have a physical nation. Israel is no longer His nation. Rome wasn’t His nation. Britain wasn’t His nation. The United States of America is not His nation.
The True “Christian Nation”
God is no longer working in terms of physical nations. In Daniel 2:44-45, God promised a different kind of kingdom or nation. It was envisioned as a stone cut out without hands. That is, it is not an earthly kingdom. When Jesus was on trial, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36). Twice Jesus explains that His kingdom is not of this world. He was not only establishing a new nation, but a new kind of nation.
What is this nation? Christ’s church. This nation was established in Acts 2. It is described in I Peter 2:9-10. The church is now the people for God’s own possession. The church is the Israel of God mentioned Galatians 6:16. We see Jesus connect the church with God’s kingdom in Matthew 16:18-19. Jesus was going to build His church, and then give the keys of this kingdom to Peter and the apostles.
Once we recognize this, when we want to take the Old Testament passages that speak of the Israelite nation and apply them today, we need to apply them to Christ’s church, not some physical earthly nation. No wonder Paul explains that the Christian citizenship is in heaven, not in Jerusalem, Rome, or even Washington D.C. (Philippians 3:20).
Righteousness exalts a nation. Yes, but we need to apply this to His church not to a physical nation. We Christians, members of God’s household, citizens of God’s kingdom, must pursue righteousness or we will not be exalted and Christ’s church will bear reproach.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. However, we need to apply this to Christ’s church, not the USA. The church is blessed when its members surrender to God as Lord. When they follow man-written creeds, develop man-made organizational structures, pursue man-thought-of means of worship and work, they will not be blessed but will fall before the world.
Be Patriotic, but Keep the Proper Perspective
If you are a patriot of your country, that is fine. If you long for the United States of America to continue as a strong nation, that is great. But please don’t make the mistake of thinking that God cares how long the USA lasts. He has witnessed the rising and falling of nation after nation after nation. He didn’t send Jesus into the earth to establish the United States of America. He sent Jesus to the earth to establish His nation, the church. And this nation exists inside of all the nations of the earth.
Whether the USA rises or falls, God couldn’t care less. What God cares about is that His people pursue righteousness and draw more and more people into His kingdom. God couldn’t care less about our efforts to prolong the nations of our world. What He cares about is whether or not we live as His people in whatever nation we reside. He asks us to seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33), not that we seek to turn some physical nation into His kingdom.
He used a physical nation once. His purpose was to show that wouldn’t work. Now He has established His true nation, and sadly, many in that nation are letting it get divided based on an election in a nation that doesn’t matter in the eternal scheme of things.
Trust me, when we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to realize that what happened to the United States of America didn’t really matter than when we first begun. But what does matter is how we conduct ourselves toward our brethren, toward the world, toward our God.
I’d love for the physical nation of which I’m a citizen to have laws that correspond with biblical teaching. I even vote based on that. But let us not for one second think we are accomplishing God’s will by voting in some way that we think will improve our nation. God hasn’t said anything about that. What He has said is that whatever our nation does, we need to pursue righteousness because we are part of Christ’s nation–the church.
America wasn’t Christ’s nation when it was founded. It will never be Christ’s nation, no matter who is elected our next president or what laws he enacts. Christ’s nation is His church. The world is at war with Christ’s nation. It has always been that way and always will. Sadly, this mistaken notion that the USA is the Christian Nation has caused us to lose sight of the fact that we reside in enemy territory. It has caused us to let our guard down and let us get too friendly with the world. No wonder so many church buildings look more like movie theaters, recreation centers, and entertainment venues than they do places of worship and spiritual edification. No wonder it is hard to tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians. But I guess this gets us into what should be another blog post.
We must not lose sight of Christ’s real nation even in this election year.
Following my post above, I have received some private comments I would like to address.
First: One friend and brother who agrees with the sentiment of my post is concerned about my saying that God couldn’t care less how long the USA lasts. I agree with Him that God may have plans for the USA. God may use the USA to accomplish things or teach lessons. Please keep my statement in the context of the article. My hyperbole is intended to drive home a point. Just as when Jesus told us to hate our family (Luke 14:26), He didn’t mean that absolutely, I don’t mean my statement absolutely either. I simply mean in this context that God cares far more about how His actual nation, the church, acts than He does about how any physical nation acts. He cares far more about how long the church lasts than how long any actual nation lasts.
Second: Another friend and brother who also agrees with the sentiment of my post is concerned about my explanation of Proverbs 14:34. I certainly don’t want anyone to think that God doesn’t care about sin among all nations. I was hoping my statements expressing what I don’t doubt had demonstrated that. My point is simply that under the Old Covenant God was working through a physical nation, which made Proverbs 14:34 more fitting for Old Covenant Judah and the nations surrounding it. God is no longer using a physical nation in that way under the New Covenant which limits the use of that verse for nations today. Rather, we need to see the kingdom He is ultimately concerned about is His church.
Please understand that my main point is for all the Christians who see all the problems in the USA regarding morals or regarding the lack of concern for the underprivileged or whatever problems you see, none of that means God is being defeated. God did not send Jesus to establish the USA. He did not send Jesus to set up a Christian Nation in that sense. If…excuse me…when the USA falls, Christ’s church will endure and God will not be fretting the fall of the USA one whit.