Biblical Thinking

Thinking About ‘A Christian Nation’

I want to try something a little different in my blog this week.

The last two weeks, I’ve preached texts containing a concept I was barely able to consider on Sunday morning. With the help of anyone reading this blog and willing to write in, I’m hoping we can delve into the idea in at least some depth here.

The first text was Matthew 25:31-46, where we see an image of the judgment. The criteria for being a “sheep” (with Christ) or a “goat” (against Christ) puzzle some readers. The criteria are very action oriented: Did you or did you not give food and water to the hungry and thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned? On the surface, Christ’s basis for judgment seems to conflict with the notion we are saved by grace alone.

There was a basic conclusion to this sermon. Real faith results in discernible compassion for others. We imitate the compassion Jesus Christ showed us on the cross.

The second text was from Mark 13. Jesus is quite apocalyptic here, predicting the destruction of the temple that would come four decades later, and talking more broadly about the end of time as we know it. He also talks about signs of the time to come, but warns us there is no way we can know for sure when this will be.

Again, there was a conclusion, the same one Jesus offers: Keep awake! We also could say, “Keep busy,” deliberately working in the highways and hedges to grow the kingdom.

Now, here’s the part I want to explore. In both texts, there is the concept of “nation.” Individuals are judged, but nations—our governments, our politics, our systems for functioning as a group—are judged, too.

In the United States, the claim we are a “Christian nation” gets thrown around a lot in politics. If you pay close attention to those using the phrase, you’ll find each leader or potential leader can mean very different things. In some cases, it is simply a trigger phrase designed to appeal to a particular part of the electorate.

Here’s my question: Looking at Christ’s teachings, what would a Christian nation look like? What kind of policies would it have? What actions would put it with the sheep, opposite the goats?

Consider some of the big issues that are current. How would a Christian nation approach war? Immigration? Poverty? I have just one rule here. Be biblical! There are already enough people using the phrase “Christian nation” without letting the Bible be their guide.

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