Holding America Lightly

In the past 9 years, I have been learning the concept of holding things lightly.  Rather than gripping something tightly because I don’t want or feel I should have to let it go, I hold things with an open palm enjoying it for as long as God has brought it into my life, and ready to relinquish it should the time come that God chooses to take it away.  It can be hard to do… especially with some of the things that matter most.

I saw an image of the American flag today on a video that was portraying a message of freedom, of rights, and I thought to myself how much we American Christians associate that flag with our Christian rights.  Probably because the country of the U.S.A was founded (though not in a perfect spirit) in order to give Christians a sanctuary to live out their lives according to their beliefs and not have their faith encroached on or dictated by a government.  Sadly, we have been slowly giving away our personal rights and freedoms to do exactly that – give our government the right to dictate how we can live regardless of our relgious beliefs.

This was destined to happen, however.  Anytime you give someone the authority to make rules for the purpose of your protection, those rules will eventually overtake your life.  God never wanted that for us.  He wanted us to live our lives in submission to Him.  To allow Him to be the sole authority in each of our personal lives.  To not judge each other and try to play God in each other’s lives, but each person to live out their intimate relationship with Him daily.  Seek fresh manna, as it were, for every day and every situation in our lives.  But people didn’t want to do that.  They wanted to live as they pleased, and let someone else seek God for them.  They said they were willing to obey the human authority who would supposedly be living in submission to God.  God warned His people: It wouldn’t work.  It can’t work in this fallen state of mankind.  Giving one person, or even a group of people, the power to make decisions for a whole group of people is more responsibility than we were designed to handle.  We were each built with a unique design to be able to govern ourselves with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  But we didn’t want it.  It was easier to relinquish our right to self-govern, and instead to let someone else make the rules and enforce them.  And so, God’s people begged for a King.  He gave them the dirty details of what it would result in.  But they wouldn’t listen.  Perhaps they didn’t believe God.  Or perhaps (and I believe almost worse) they did believe Him but hoped that it wouldn’t happen in their lifetime!

Fast-forward to today.  Another country that was founded on godly principles.  An attempt to not allow one man absolute control so that the power did not take control of his life and result in the downfall of society, they spread the power over several systems of government answerable to the other.  It forestalled the inevitable, and therefore gave Americans the expectation that it would actually work forever.  But it’s not.  Like the Emerald Ash Borer that came over from Asia in 1992, unnoticed until 2002, and now affecting several states and killing a massive amount of Ash Trees, the choices we have made and the rights we have handed over to our government were small and slow in coming.  Sometimes the choices seemed reasonable given the dilemma we were faced with.  But once again, rather than going to God to have Him lead us in the best decisions, we went to the government and asked them to solve the problems.  Therefore, slowly but surely, we allowed government more and more control.

And now it may be too late.  The American Flag, our cherished symbol of freedom and liberty, will not always signify the greatness of what our country once was.  It will eventually embody a symbol of absolute rule by a government that doesn’t care to listen to the needs of it’s people.  It will be an absolute power, loving only itself, preening itself for the sake of itself.

How will we see the flag then?  Will we continue to hold onto it tightly, trying to make it be as it once was.  Or will we eventually let go of it, and finally turn ourselves over to God?  Perhaps we will stop trying to save the country, and instead try to save the people in it.  It would have been better to be able to repair the Titanic so that it would not sink, thereby making it a safe vessel for all aboard to arrive safely at their destination.  Better yet, had it not been steered into an area where icebergs had the opportunity to damage the great ship.  At least, if life boats had been installed properly to save all the people aboard so that should the unthinkable happen, there was still a way out.  But choices had been made that put the Titanic in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Repairs were too little, too late.  There were not enough life boats; though sad, it was  fact that could not be rectified at the time.  The ship was too far away from anyone else in order for help to come through outside assistance.  And therefore, at some point, the people had to decide: would they hold onto the image of the greatness of the ship?  Would they maintain that it was built for greatness, and therefore the greatness of the boat had to be restored?  Or would they turn their eyes from the ship and do the best they could to save lives?

At some point, we will have to stop trying to repair the ship.  The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 which tells us to go into all the world preaching the gospel under the authority of Jesus, is the only thing that will save.  Fallen mankind cannot endure the overwhelming responsibility of being an authority over nations, nor of the world.   We were warned.  We tried anyway.  It is sad to be facing the demise of a country that was so beloved.  Sad doesn’t even fully describe the feeling of loss and mourning.  Yet, there is a greater hope that is not of this world.  And our concern should, perhaps, be more focused on gathering as many as are willing to have life in the New Kingdom!

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