Christ First

For Christians, it is Christ First, not America First. And no, it cannot be both. People have asked me why I get so upset about having American flags in the sanctuary, singing patriotic hymns, or recognizing military service during worship. It is because our indoctrination as Americans renders us highly susceptible to ignoring or attempting to justify the horrendous acts that have been and continue to be committed in our name. Our society encourages us to equate being a Christian with being an American. Our communal worship must be a time to remind us that our loyalty goes first not to America, but to Christ.
As Americans, we are taught from childhood that the United States is the greatest country that ever existed, the world leader in democratic values, and a place founded by people seeking religious freedom. What is often left out of our education is the fact that before there was ever a Declaration of Independence or a Constitution, there were Africans and African-Americans being sold on auction blocks and Native Americans being slaughtered. What is often left out is that our history speaks less to the search for religious freedom than to the search for land, less to the desire to worship Christ than to worship greed. While there were Christians who spoke out against atrocities and died because of their beliefs, there were others who used Christianity as a tool to justify those atrocities. Our faith has too often been used as a means of distraction, division, and affirmation of what is wrong about our nation than as a force for what is right, just, and affirming of all life.
During this season as we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, may we remember our commitment as Christians to the principles for which Jesus stood. Instead of getting distracted with calls for cashiers to say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” or to bemoan who or what institution did not place a manger scene on the lawn, may we focus on the things Jesus, God in human flesh and blood, cared about. May we remember the child whose parents were turned away from reputable establishments, who was targeted by the government for execution, who was carried out of his homeland to seek asylum and who lived as a refugee, and who called on his fellow Jews to follow God’s way regardless of doctrines, traditions, or laws. May we speak out against any American policy, including the closing of our borders and the tear gassing of people seeking asylum, that does not welcome the stranger or treat our neighbors as ourselves. May we not gain secure borders at the cost of losing our souls. May our minds, our voices, and our hearts always be guided not by America first, but by Christ first. Amani.

One thought on “Christ First

  1. Our value system has been and remains distorted. Have we forgotten the true meaning of life as a nation? Perhaps the system that once enslaved is the same system enslaving through the means of the marketplace today, the government, and even the churches. The foundation of the church in its purist form was to teach… teach the basics of reading and writing, how to survive, etc. The question is how do we return to the roots of the establishment of the church? Where is the church that will stand up for justice, to speak out and against the inhumane behaviors? Where is the church that will welcome and embrace those that have been abandoned, discriminated against, rejected, etc.?

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