NATION-STATES ARE DOOMED TO FAILURE
There are individuals, people-groups and nations. Most modern nations are comprised of multiple people-groups.
God wants us to celebrate people-groups – ethnic diversity, cultural variety brings us creative joy, expands our understanding, increases our empathy, and moves us towards wholeness. Saying we don’t see color may give the impression we don’t value diversity.
We value diverse cultures and we value individual humans. God chooses everyone for salvation. Jesus died for every human being. Individual salvation, new life in Christ, is available to every person without exception. It is not God’s will that any should perish. One must trample under foot the Son of God, count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, consistently tell God to go away in order to be lost.
Nations are political entities that rise and fall. None are as important as people-groups or individuals. There is one nation, Israel, which God chose to reveal God’s divine love to the world. Surely, other nations have important purposes in the plans of God, but none are chosen, as was Israel. Perhaps (I am speculating) Greece was chosen to give us philosophy, Polynesia for navigation, Aksum for architecture, the Mayans and Arabs to give us mathematics, and China to provide us with innovation, creativity, and the compass. Arguably, America’s greatest contribution to civilization has been charity – open doors welcoming wretched masses, a great melting pot of opportunity, generous relief for famines and tsunamis, an absence of class systems.
Invariably, nation-states fail their purposes as they sink into greed, power, and self-indulgence. Every empire implodes eventually.
Clearly, God chose no nation to be superior to others, to control, use, or exploit others.
Romans chapters 9 through 11 are routinely interpreted so as to confuse the election of nations/people groups for particular vocations with the election of individuals for salvation. God doesn’t pick people to go to hell. All are called. All are welcome. God selected the nation of Israel to reflect God’s love to other nations.
They failed. Israel was elected, chosen, to represent God, but rather than loving and serving the nations, fell into national exceptionalism and xenophobia. Gentiles, non-Jews, rather than being viewed as loved by God, became viewed prejudicially as dirty, unclean, threatening, and almost sub-human. While self-righteously assuming superiority and privilege, the ancient Jews pursued idols. We also:
- War and militarism(AKA, Mars, Ares, Anant, Astarte, Ba’al, Chemosh, Resheph, Tanit, etc.). Mottos include: Might Makes Right, Freedom Isn’t Free, Support Our Troops, Home of the Brave, God, Guts, and Guns; Blue Lives Matter; Shock and Awe, These Colors Don’t Run… Temples: war machines, flyovers, military bases, SWAT teams Sacred Days:Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day
- Consumerism(AKA, Mammon, Dagon, Gad, Plutus, Pisces, Saturn, etc.) Mottos include: It’s Just Business, Every Man’s a Thief in His Own Business, Buy Now, Call Today, Seed Faith Offering… Temples: Malls, Amazon, Wall Street, Madison Avenue Sacred Days:Black Thursday, the entire month of December
- Nationalism(AKA, Roman Imperial Cult, Pharaohs, Japanese, Chinese, and Roman Emperors, Hitler, etc.) Mottos include: Hail to the Chief, God’s Chosen, the New Cyrus, America First, Make America Great, America – love it or leave it… Temples: Monuments, capitol, flags, parades Sacred Day:Independence Day
- Self-indulgence, (AKA, Aphrodite,Inanna-Ishtar, Eos, Hedonism, and so on)Mottos include: Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die; If it feels good, do it; Look Out for Number One; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness… Temples:Hollywood, TV, sports, luxury cars Sacred Days: Every single day.
The ancient Jews wound up being captive to the idols they worshipped. Many today are captive to their money, their national ideology, or the way of violence and vengeance.
Where Israel failed, Jesus succeeded. Jesus created a new humanity, a new people-group, the Kingdom of God, made up of women and men from every conceivable ethnicity and culture.
Empowered by God’s Spirit, infused with the cruciform love of Christ, we are in God’s image. As others observe us, they will hopefully see Christ. They’ll know we are Christians by our love.
God calls us to come out. Come out from Babylon. Come out from empires. Come out from consumerism, militarism, and nationalistic xenophobia and racism. Come out from Christendom, Civil Religion, religious structures built by humans. Come out and take up the Kingdom Way, the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence, the way of simplicity, generosity, and service.
Forcefully emphasizing the personal pronouns, Jesus said, “I will build MY ecclesia, the community of faith.”
The community of faith did fairly well for 300 years – it was multicultural, multiethnic, intergenerational, multi-gendered, persecuted, poor, despised, and filled with joy. They owned nothing and possessed everything.
Weary of persecution and poverty, the Church merged with the State. Christendom was born. Soon, the Church was endorsing violence, waving flags, sending its members into the military to kill, grabbing wealth and power, launching crusades, sanctioning inquisitors, enslaving Africans, slaughtering indigenous people, stealing land, hating Muslims and Jews, burning crosses, engaged in lynchings, and endorsing segregation and fascism. Theologians explained away the teachings of Jesus. The worship of the God who is pure Love was exchanged for Mars, Mammon, and the Imperial Cult.
In mid-19thcentury Denmark, Sören Kierkegaard wrote: “What Christianity needs is not the suffocating protection of the State; no, it needs fresh air, it needs persecution, and it needs God’s protection…. [The State] teaches Christianity the most disgusting bad habits, as for example, under the name of Christianity to employ the power of the police.”
Fueled by blatant racism and outrageous fabrications, ads approved by the President of the United States stir up fear and hatred, endorse official violence, and demonize political opponents.
Once looked upon with hopefulness because of its reputation for compassionate charity, the United States has disintegrated into selfishness, hoarding, and fear. The way of love, the way of peace has all but vanished.Gun sales are skyrocketing, walls are built, refugees are turned back to certain death, peaceful protestors are attacked by unidentified “Federal agents” in combat gear, science is denied, conspiracy theories proliferate, the environment is raped, and people of color are scapegoated. The way of the world. The way of Babylon.
There is another way – the Kingdom Way. The way of Christ is generous – it opens the door and shares no matter how scarce our resources may be. The way of Christ recognizes that black lives matter. My life does not matter more than your life. The way of Christ is the willingness to die that others may live. The way of Christ is always nonviolent. It is truthful. It never lords over. Instead, it serves. The way of Christ treasures nature and all its creatures. The way of Christ loves everyone, even enemies.
The way of Christ invites all to freely come and drink deeply of pure grace. There are no boundaries, no divisions, no second-class citizens.
The Lord invites us to partner with God as God makes all things new. This is our vocation. This is our calling. God elected us to bring God’s unconditional, cruciform, reconciling love, shalom, wholeness, peace, joy, and justice to all the world.