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Church Idols – Patriotism & Pacifism

November 6, 2013

As we continue to explore idols in the church, we find ourselves looking at pacifism and patriotism. The American flag stands on many pulpits in America. There are videos on YouTube showing Sunday worship services which look like the Republican National Convention. Other churches have gone the opposite direction and removed themselves from the national conversation and become reclusive pacifists. Holding to either of these extremes can become an idol to a church, a source of pride for the church that holds them.

For years now it would seem the evangelical church has been in love with America. This was not a supportive love, but a codependent love. As long as laws were backing the evangelical view the church supported American military operations with little to no argument. There was a mutual support between the government and church which was unmistakable to the average news viewer. Laws were passed which followed the Christian faith in exclusion to other beliefs. This nationalist fervor created an unholy alliance between government and church.

More recently the opposite seems to become the modern thing to do. Many churches are turning to a pacifist view, which in and of itself is wonderful. Some go too far by eschewing this position to the extent where they remove themselves from the larger national conversation. They view pacifism as the necessity to remove their church from the public conversation and nearly become monasteries for the like-minded.

Are these two things really idols? At the extremes they sure are! Jesus spoke about loving your neighbor and caring for the least of these – the sufferers. When holding a nationalist position where you support the movements of the government unquestioningly you are now afflicting the sufferers and downtrodden, the very people Jesus called us to care for. Whereas if you completely remove yourself from the public conversation into a monastic like pacifism, you are neglecting the suffering worldwide by failing to call for proper care and consideration in the public venue. In a way, the church is called to be the neutral referee. We believe in the Word of God and the teachings of Jesus. We hold these as truths. Are we, in the church itself, caring for the least of these? If we are, then it is time to reach out into the public venue and call for others to join us and decry oppressing laws and policies.

So, have you, or your church, made patriotism or pacifism into a local idol? Or are you wrestling with how to be in this world while not being of the world? Keep taking your temperature on these issues and avoid idolatry in these areas of your life and the conscience of your church.

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