A news report from DeLand, FL tells the story of threatening notes being left at church aimed at the church's pastor. "Resign or else" kind of notes. Sadly, the pastor has taken a "leave of absence" and taken his family, including young children, out of town for their safety.
His "crime"? He removed the US and "Christian" flags from his church auditorium.
Anyone who knows me knows that I bleed red, white and blue. I'm proud to be an American and not ashamed to say so. On Veterans Day and Memorial Day you'll likely find me participating in a municipal ceremony. We recognized our Veterans at church and thank them for their service in protecting our freedoms. We serve coffee in red, white and blue cups on July 4th weekends. That doesn't mean I'm always proud of my government, but I'm all for flag waving in the appropriate place.
I'm not sure church is that place.
The Body of Christ (ie. the church) is all about being the citizenry of another Kingdom. And when we come together to worship our allegiance is first to Christ. All other allegiances must be secondary. Unfortunately, in this country, too many of us, especially those of us who lean right (and I'm in that group) have equated patriotism and nationalism with godliness. If that be the case, what do you say to Chinese Christians who live in a country where their government outlaws the open expression of their faith? Should they fly the Chinese flag in their houses of worship? If nationalism and Christianity are inseparable, the answer would have to be "yes". Yet I somehow doubt that's an issue in China.
When did the display of US flags in churches become common place? Did our theology change after Betsy Ross said, "Here it is!"?
Having said that, I also believe that being Christian requires me to be a good citizen of the country of my residence. I vote (even in primaries!). I have a flag decal on my pick up truck! I pray for my leaders and for our military personnel in harm's way. My chest swells when fighter jets fly over. So if you choose to comment, please don't fashion me as some left winger. This isn't about patriotism. It's really about our concept of what it means to be a Christian.
And what of threatening your pastor for making a decision you don't like?
Oh yeah. Where did the "Christian flag" come from anyway? (Coney Island, 1897) Seems like the church survived somehow for 1900 years without it...
More later on that.