Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Pledge Allegiance To the Flag

Of the United States of America
And to the Union
For which it Stands,
One Nation, Under God

With Liberty and Justice for All.

One of the big political footballs this election cycle is God.  Christians are all up in arms because many want to take the “under God” phrase out of the pledge.  I can’t tell you how many emails that I have gotten on this subject and I am supposed to send the message to 10 of my friends.  The same with Facebook, the action states, “repost this if you agree”.  It’s like if I don’t repost it, then I am against this little two word phrase.  I’ve got some news for you; we have more problems that worrying about this phrase. 

I don’t want them to take the phrase out of the allegiance, but I am not going to get all that bothered by it either.  We Americans are quite smug.  We took over the word, American.  Last I looked there was a North America and a South America.  Canadians are in North America with the United States.  Aren’t they Americans?  What about the countries in South America?  The citizens of the United State have the idea that we are a chosen nation.  That’s where the smugness comes in.  I ask, chosen by whom? Do you really think that God chose the United States?  If so, what were we chosen to do? 

I feel about the pledge of allegiance like I feel about a common prayer that we say when we sit down to eat.  “Thank you God for our food and our health today, Amen.”  We say it like we were repeating a nursery rhyme, almost like we were singing it.  I personally feel like the powers that be are making a big deal out of the “under God” phrase so we forget about the second half of that sentence, “with Liberty and Justice for all”.  That’s the part of the sentence that I am concerned with.  Remember religious liberty is a part of liberty.  As they take away our liberties, we lose more than just that “under God” phrase.  And don’t get me started on “justice”.  We all know that “money talks” in our political system and yet we just let it happen.  We feel powerless and in many ways we are. 

To leap to the assumption that the United States is “God’s chosen people” is just wrong.  But first, let’s just play like we were “chosen by God”.  Be careful of what you ask for.  We can all agree that the Israelites in the Old Testament were “God’s Chosen People”.  What did God do for them?  Many times as they drifted from God, he let other countries defeat them.  Defeated so badly,that they lost their homeland and were dispersed throughout the Middle East.  Persecuted by their enemies and many were killed.  If we are “God’s chosen people than we have a lot to look forward to.  Now some will tell me that’s exactly what’s happening to the United States today.  We are being punished because we are turning away from God. 

Now we are getting closer to the true problem.  What are we teaching in our churches?  It seems like one extreme or the other.  There is a preacher in Houston whose church was a pro basketball arena.  He’s on every Sunday morning.  Thousands of people in attendance.  I have to be careful here, because I do not want to be seen as judging him.  My concern with him and his church is it’s what I perceive to be an “entertainment church”.  Now you say, “What the heck does that mean?”.  To me it means that the sermons are all about “feel good”.  He’s always preaching about how God wants you to have money, a job and to be successful.  He says, “look at me” and is proud of it.  I almost feel like I am attending a multi-level distribution company convention.  The top level distributors get up on stage and tell about their struggles and they still made it to the top and by golly so can you. If I could just recruit those thousands of people in his church to sign up as my recruits and pay the monthly fees to do it, I could be rich and successful.  Wait a minute, that’s exactly what’s he done.  I guess I need to go start my own “feel good” church. 

The other side of the coin is the “hell, fire and brimstone” preacher.  I know you have all heard a preacher like this one, but he one that comes to mind for me was on the television real early on Sunday mornings.  He always drew a picture while he preached.  He drew with chalk, and he was quite the artist.  Watched the show just to watch him draw.  He preached “gloom and doom”.  Never once did I hear him tell about the joy of being a Christian.  His church was always full, but it was a small church.  I think of those types of preachers as “Old Testament” preachers.  God was quite vengeful in the Old Testament. 

All Christians in the United States are either in churches like the two that I described or more likely somewhere in between.  Many claim to be Christians but don’t attend church at all.  They say, I don’t need church to know Jesus.  And you know, that’s true.  Christians are in many phases of development.  Little Christians (young kids) are still in that magical phase, where they liken Jesus to Santa Clause.  They can’t see either one, but believe in both. 

Some Christians never get out of this phase and even some mature Christians are lured back into this phase.  In the magical phase, God always rewards good and punishes evil.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever prayed like this:  “God, I’ll never do it again if you’ll just get me out of this jam”.  Or how about this prayer that many say while sitting in the waiting room at a hospital while a loved one is undergoing surgery in a life threatening situation: “God please don’t let them die, Please take care of them” repeated over and over and over.   Come on, I know you’ve done it; I know I have on many occasions. 

In an earlier post, I said that you are either moving forwards or backwards in your Christian belief, that there is no neutral.  Many Christians start sliding backwards when they don’t get favorable answers to their prayers.  And that’s a shame.  So they retreat back to their couch on Sunday mornings and watch church on TV.  And they flip channels like they were watching football games.  Trying to find that one preacher that is preaching a message that makes them happy.

While we are watching TV, we are multi-tasking and doing the Facebook thing too.  We are looking to see if somebody gave us a heart or helped us on Farmville or posted a picture of their kids or grandkids.  I daresay that we all know what “like” means on Facebook.  And then someone comes along and posts something about somebody wanting to do away with the “under God” phrase in the pledge and wants us to like their post and then repost it.  Doing our Christian and patriotic duty, we “like” them a lot.  Oh boy, now we feel good.  We don’t even have to watch that preacher any more.  We have done our duty for the day.  I just wonder how much God “likes” us. 

I am lucky in that I found a church that lives in the Bible.  Our preacher tells us about life.  How the life we live here on earth is just a journey to prepare us for heaven.  As in any journey, there are good times and bad times.  God is constantly teaching us throughout all phases in our life.  He knows we will hurt at times and he will comfort us if we turn it over to him.  My church tries to live by Jesus’s word: “Love one another like you love yourself”.  I find great comfort in that message.  And I am so grateful that I see that message in the members of my church.  I can see the footprints of God there and feel his presence. 

As for me, I just pray that God’s helps me to hear him when he tells me about his will for my life.  I get confused and I need God and my church family to help me. I need to read the Bible daily.  That is the only way that I can continue to grow in my Christian life. I need prayer to guide me, my church family to show me and the Bible to allow me to read the greatest story ever told. 

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