I grew up in an era of renewed nationalism. The Reagan Era was the height of the Cold War, and the American identity was rooted in policing the world and rooting out evil and oppression in the name of freedom. In many respects, I believe it was a true pursuit and a noble endeavor. The result, however, was that many Christ-followers fused their identity as believers with their country. Somehow, the Biblical identity of strangers in a strange land, aliens and sojourners, was lost, and a co-mingled identity of followers of Jesus, who proclaimed the gospel and who laid down their lives and considered their neighbors as better than themselves, was grafted with the pursuit of happiness and individual rights with legislated morality.
We lose our ability to be salt and light when we demand our rights and long to guide culture through a set of laws that suit our moral sensibilities. We lose our identity as the radical followers of Christ when we whine on Facebook and believe that the right candidate will assuage all our problems. We lose the right to represent Jesus when what we really represent is a false hope that democratic processes will allow us to have a culture and lifestyle that we prefer. When, if we read the end of the book, we realize this is a false hope.
If we humble ourselves and serve our neighbor, we not only have the rights to fly a flag, but His banner of love flies above our lives. We do not care if cakes are rainbows because the covenant of grace hallmarks our lives. We do not opine the candidate’s platform because our leader can never be ousted or overthrown. Our lives are disentangled from the syncretic belief that America is the Kingdom, and our identity is not as Americans, whether black, white or brown, but as Followers of the Way, and our lives and lifestyles so represent our Jesus that it is apparent to all.
What if we lay down our rights and simply serve?