It is inappropriate, in a Christian assembly, to sing the praises of military sacrifice and of American freedoms. It is inappropriate on Veterans Day and on every other day of the year.
Among the reasons for gathering as Christian believers is to remember and honor the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah. His ultimate sacrifice is the one that merits attention. No one else’s matters, in comparison. Today, though, the precious communion of the saints, in at least one place, was severed by thoughtless, even blasphemous comparison to the Lord Jesus’ atoning death.
Many things have upset me during Christian assemblies in my years on this planet. Most Sundays in my adult life, in fact, something said or done has run contrary to what I find supported by scripture and/or logic. In other words, many matters have displeased or upset me, but I can’t recall any that have aroused my ire like this one today. I guess it caught me off guard, but there was no way I could stay in this assembly in which we were a) exhorted to honor the sacrifice of our veterans and b) treated to a prayer that thanks God for the same. This thinking has no verbalized place in church gatherings at all — and certainly not in prayer to the Almighty God who is above every political entity.
I am indignant at the lack of discernment. So many souls move blithely through American life, with their thinking all askew, assuming that
Christian = Republican = Militarily Involved/Supportive
No. Not at all.
While I would typically sleep on a topic that fires me up, not so today. Long after the emotion has subsided, the scruples, which are well founded, will remain. (Read about the core of the good news in 1Cor 15. Read about the death of Jesus toward the end of Mark 9 and 10 and tell me a military death, no matter how sacrificial or gruesome or untimely, has anything to do with the death of the Lord. Read about identifying with Jesus’ death in Romans 6. And read 2 Tim 2:4 and tell me what the “army” is — for the soldier of whom Paul writes, metaphorically.)
Different opinions on matters such as this may coexist. Coexistence must not lead to the public preaching of one side “in church,” however. It does not maintain the Spirit’s unity to force one set of unsupported opinions on the entire congregation. Wisdom ought to realize that obvious displays of American patriotism are not only inappropriate, but they have the potential to be divisive. To call attention, during a Christian Assembly, to the giving of life for a political or military cause is as heartbreaking as it is shocking.
Universal church, you should strike Veterans Day and Memorial Day from the internal church calendars. (Until the day of fruition, though, I will need to watch the calendar more closely for my family, so we can avoid pretty much all U.S. churches on these days.)
The rest of the country may fly its flags and honor veterans, and that is to be expected. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest for a private American citizen to have a flag flying or a yellow ribbon tied, or for an American Walmart to have a veterans’ organization doing a fundraiser out in front. But not the church — not the group that is called out of this world. Oh, and lest we forget, not all of the world is American.
As Christians who are also American citizens secondarily, we must pledge allegiance only to the Lamb.
An individual I once worked with briefly, and whom I have grown to respect, once said this:
I grew weary long ago of those who love usurping God-time with praise for their country and the illusion of this world’s freedoms. I think they insult both God and country: God by taking away from His worship and country because they don’t want the inconvenience of having to schedule separate time to honor their country. “Isn’t it so much simpler since we’re all here together anyway to just go ahead and celebrate our nation?”
People who are so fond of praising and serving “God and country” do not comprehend that our God is a jealous God. – Harold Arnett