A reader questions the Wilson quote from a couple posts ago.
Why accuse everyone who grieves the moral decline of America of being an idolater?
Too often our happiness is tied more to the state of our nation than to the state of the kingdom of God. It is good to want Christ's kingdom to influence and hold sway in your nation. To the extent we pull for that, and are saddened seeing our nation reject biblical values, we are being Christian patriots in the best sense of that phrase.
But when we equate Christ's kingdom with our nation, when we can't see God working things for good for His people while our own nation declines, when we cannot criticize and even rebuke our nation in spite of her obvious immorality, when we cannot accept that God would allow our nation to crumble, then we have slipped into a subtle idolatry.
When we think of America as the last and best hope for humanity, the idolatry has grown. Maybe it was accurate in the past to pose that America was the earthly kingdom that most pursued the priorities of Christ's kingdom. Maybe. But that time is long gone and won't be back soon. As Bonhoffer had to, we need to start thinking as Christians of our priorities apart from and even opposed to our nation's priorities. The church's agenda overlaps with some politicians' agendas only very slightly, and the church's energy should mostly be elsewhere. What is that agenda? Is the campaign season distracting us from remembering what we are called to be about as Christians in any nation?
With gratitude for the freedom God has given us in this nation, we have a responsibility to use that freedom well. To question if we are using that freedom to love and serve others (Galatians 5:13), or to indulge ourselves and lead the world astray with our immorality?
Should we really seek greatness and power for a nation that pressures other nations to accept same-sex marriage and relationships as normal? That allows the killing of unborn babies without even minimal restrictions for medical reasons? That exports immorality around the world? Imprecatory prayers are as appropriate for our current regime as "May God bless America." To my mind, few Trump supporters have moral greatness in mind when they call for America to be great again. Any candidate for nominee pursuing that dimension was quietly set aside and muted. We are in big trouble.
It may be offensive to call those who don't see this trouble as deeply as we'd like idolaters.
But what else do we call it when love for a lesser thing like a nation hinders your loyalty to God's truth and kingdom?