Hating and Loving The National Day of Prayer

day of prayerI have a confession to make… I, as a follower of Jesus and a pastor, have love-hate relationship with the National Day of Prayer… I know that believers and pastors all over this country are making a big deal about this day… especially has it happened to land a few weeks after the Boston bombings and a day after the news broke that the Pentagon is thinking about stopping soldiers from sharing their religious beliefs.

Yet…yet…yet…. Sigh….

Part of me knows that anytime folks gather together in prayer it is a good thing… I also know that followers of Jesus are to love and bless everyone around them: their family, friends, enemies, leaders, co-workers, and anyone in-between.

Yet on the other side I really, really, really dislike the way in patriotism for one’s country has embedded itself into Christianity. Sadly enough in some places patriotism and Christianity merged together so much that to talk bad about one’s country is an insult against God and vis a versa. Oh, by the way the USA is not the only place where this has happened. History tells us of many, many countries where this mis-view of the following Jesus has gained control.

The simple fact remains that there has never been a “Christian nation” on planet earth.

Yes, there have been nations who have based some of their laws or customs on principles found in the Bible – but that does not make them a “Christian nation.”

To be a “Christian” is to give yourself 100% to Jesus the Christ. It is follow His example in all things. It is to love and forgive your enemies – to turn the other check; to heal the sick; preach that the Kingdom of God is at hand; it is to die so that others may live. And, well, quite frankly, there has never been a nation or a government that has embodied the character and actions of Jesus.

Pastor, theologian and author Gregory Boyd put it this way

myth of a christian nation“…the governments of this world seek to establish, protect, and advance their ideals and agendas. It‘s in the fallen nature of all those governments to want to ‘win.’ By contrast, the kingdom Jesus established and modeled with his life, death, and resurrection doesn’t seek to ‘win’ by any criteria the world would use. Rather, it seeks to be faithful. It demonstrates the reign of God by manifesting the sacrificial character of God, and in the process, it reveals the most beautiful, dynamic, and transformation power in the universe. It testifies that this power alone – the power to transform people from the inside out by coming under them – holds the hope of the world. Everything the church is about, I argue, hangs on preserving the radical uniqueness of this kingdom in contrast to the kingdom of the world.” –emphasis added; quote from “The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church”

So what does this mean?

It means that while I will pray for my nation and its leaders, my prayers will not be ones of grandeur or for making the U.S.A. a better nation. My prayers will be for the people who live and breathe on this planet; my prayers will be for the ones Jesus died for:

“Here I am Lord. Mold me, shape me into the image of Your Son, Jesus the King. May I walk in Your footsteps. Help us all who follow You to embody Your character and love. May we be known for our love for each other and our enemies. Draw each person on the planet, all who draws a breathe regardless of race or gender, deeper and deeper into Your arms. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, who was, and is and is to come. Come, Holy Spirit, come – sweep through this land. Amen.”

3 thoughts on “Hating and Loving The National Day of Prayer”

  1. I do not usually get caught up in all these pretentious, so called Christian pronouncements. I am a person of relationship with Jesus, a part of His body not a religious rhetoric or a religious sentiment. Not a political party or a national day of feel good deception.

  2. There was an older professor in a small Bible College. He was teaching a small class of about 6 students. It was before the religious right and the call to the nation that God was on our side. It was during the Viet Nam War. There were students marching by, calling upon the Christians to come, join them. Conflicted and not knowing where to stand, the students heard the professor’s words of wisdom. “We are called to be Christians in this nation, we are not a Christian nation.” A number of years later one of the students stood at a courthouse in Montana and read, “If my people, who I call by my name humble themselves and pray…” Then almost three decades later, this student is now the older professor, teaching: “We are called to be Christians in this nation, as there is no Christian nation. We are called into the Kingdom of God, under the flag of Christ’s sacrificial love, knowing that God’s kingdom will never submit to the rule and reign of this or any nation on earth.
    We see the Kingdom constantly breaking into this world system, and now await for the promise that all nations will be under the Kingship of Jesus Christ the Lord.
    Come Lord Jesus, give us wisdom to hear your call in our day, to speak forth the power and majesty of your Kingdom come, and to await the full consummation of your glory.

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