No Other Gods Before Me November 10, 2006Posted by Matt in Uncategorized.
Tags: god, idolatry, pledge of allegiance
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Originally Posted 11/10/06
There was an article on Yahoo today about a California college that has banned the Pledge of Allegiance on campus and it made me start to think a little about our own participation in this ritual of nationalism.
Should Christians pledge allegiance to the flag?
I’ve written about this before, back when I started this blog, but the question still lingers in the back of my head when I see people stand and put their right hands over their heart and pledge their being, while standing in front of an nylon object that was probably made in Taiwan, to a human-made idea of “freedom.”
What are we pledging our lives for anyway? Is it to retain our prosperous American life – turning our house with two cars and a computer and satellite TV into a golden calf? Is it to a man-made nation with invisible borders with purple mountains majesty from sea to shining sea, so that we would die for the dirt under our feet? Or is to this idea of freedom and Western self-sufficiency and pride that causes us to worship the Baal of Stars and Stripes?
And we can make the argument that American-style freedom and democracy and justice are “good” things, but that doesn’t mean they are from God . No, they may be nice things created by man, but they are most assuredly created by man. When we pledge our all to these human ideas, we cheapen our devotion to God – saying, “God, I would give my life for you, but I would also hand over my last breath for the golden calf of America.” Would you go to your wife and say, “Honey I love you, but I also love this other woman. While I can’t devote myself fully to either of you, I will give you each some and I hope that it is enough.”
I’ve said before that I don’t like the idea of Christians serving in the military for reasons of following Christ’s example of nonviolence, but that’s not the only issue that comes up. We also have to look at our devotion and who that devotion is to. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24 –
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.
You know what, I don’t pledge my allegiance to a flag and to the republic for which it stands, Think about it the next time you stand with the automaton masses to recite words in a dull monotone that promise your life and all to man.
Creating God in Our Image October 5, 2006Posted by Matt in Uncategorized.
Tags: America, god, idolatry, military, pledge of allegiance
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Originally Posted 10/5/06
People tend to view things in life through a lens that reflects are own learning and life experiences – it’s just human nature. That being said, I think it’s a safe assumption to say that Americans tend to see things differently than people in Saudi Arabia or China or deepest darkest jungles of Africa. We’ve got our own political systems, our own social structures and so on and so on.
The question here, though, is one of God and our various interpretations of Him. Throughout history and all across the world, people have attempted to define a supreme deity in various ways – twisting and turning the concept of God to make Him fit our perception of what He “should be.” Cultures across the globe have taken the ultimate truths of God and squeezed them to fit what we perceive as right – resulting in countless religions and denominations of religions throughout history.
I don’t have the education or the time necessary to get into all of the world religions – their truths and fallacies – but I do feel like I can talk about us, in America, and our false conceptions of who God is.
What better place to start than that bedrock of Judeo-Christian beliefs – the Ten Commandments, namely let’s look at the first three and how they relate to us:
2“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3“You shall have no other gods before Me.
4“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
God starts the passage by clearly stating, “I AM” denoting Him as the one holy and true God. God is not just one of us. He’s not the guy sitting next to you on the subway or the guy on the street corner. He’s not a pop culture God who just wants to hang out with us. He’s not our homeboy. He is God – the ultimate reality and creator of the universe and everything beyond it.
Our self-centered nature is fueling it more than anything. How many times have you heard people talk about, “My spiritual needs,” or how Jesus is, “My personal Lord and Savior,” or any other host of “I’s” and “Me’s.” We, both Christians and churches, have watered God down until he fits “our needs.” We’ve turned Him into little more than a glorified therapist.
So, in Western society we’ve crafted idols out of ourselves and our own wants and desires. What other “golden calves” do we have set up on a pedestal for our adoration and allegiance?
How about our nation, the United States of America?
I pledge allegiance to the flag
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic for which it stands
One nation, under God, indivisible
With Liberty and Justice for all.
Is it okay for Christians to take this oath to a man-made nation? Who is our allegiance really to? We can wrap Jesus in the American flag all we want to, but He is most certainly not an American, so by placing our hope and allegiance in a nation created by men, we have built an idol out of something that should not matter to us as Christians. I asked in a blog entry last week if it was okay for a Christian to serve in the military and now you can have my answer – an emphatic “No!” Our lives should not ever be given “for love of country,” rather our lives and bodies should be dedicated to a Holy God, one that is greater than nations or men or ideas of “freedom.”
We’ve also gotten careless with the name of God and its use around us. Taking the Lord’s name in vain doesn’t just mean dropping the G-D bomb, it means claiming to speak for God when you do something wholely contrary to what we know of His character. That mean making false claims about how “God wants you to be rich,” or televangelists making false claims of miraculous healing – turning God into a laughingstock. It means claiming that God told you, as president, to invade other nations – killing thousands.
My time as a featured blog is nearing its end, so I thought it would be a good time to “rock the boat” a little. This is something that has been on my mind for a while because it is something that I struggle with as much as anybody. I need to give some props to D. Brent Laytham’s book, “God is not…religious, nice, one of us, an American, a capitalist,” – it helped inspire this entry. I realize that this short entry just scratches the surface, but I look forward to your critique.<b