Faith in America. What is that? We are fighting over flags. I’ve been told its irreligious to wear a football jersey at church because of how disrespectful the NFL is. Is faith in America a matter of a flag or a jersey?
During baseball games fans are asked to stand and remove their caps for the National Anthem AND “God Bless America”. “God Bless America” is usually played during the Seventh Inning Stretch. This has only happened relatively recently.
If I’m honest, I weep on the inside every single time “God Bless America” is played at a baseball game. I feel a little like Jesus after He wept following Palm Sunday saying “if only they would have known.” By the late innings of a baseball game, many around me are drunk and have had conversations which break the heart of God. Then they put it on pause to straighten up literally and figuratively. We sing our hearts out asking God to bless us all while going back to the very lifestyle that is anything but worthy of blessing.
So what does faith in America mean? I don’t have faith in America. America is not worthy of my faith. Christ alone is. So I don’t think I can take that statement as faith or trust in America. That would make America the subject, right? Instead, I see America as the direct object. America is my mission field. I’m to be used by God to bring faith to America.
Here are two verses I think we miss as a church:
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:16-20
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
These passages have been taught, expounded on, nuanced, etc. If you want in-depth teaching on these passages, this article is not for that. I refer to these passages to ask you, the reader, some questions for reflection.
Did Jesus say stay or go? What is our purpose in going?
What good is an ambassador that never travels to the country he’s been assigned to?
Can he accomplish his mission by staying put?
Does the ambassador for Christ have a message from Christ? What is it?
For centuries the church lived as a privileged member of society. The church was comfortable and esteemed. What did we do with that privileged position? We stayed. We invited. We opened our doors. It worked. Have an event at your church and people would naturally come. It worked so well we were able to be a “staying church” instead of a “going church.”
In the last 20 years or so that shifted. We can’t open our doors anymore and merely expect people to come. So we go. We must go. We must obey Scripture. We must go with actionable love and a message of hope and reconciliation. The church is no longer a destination; it’s become an outpost. The church should be seen as a sending agency.
We can target specific sins all we want and spend our time arguing about that. God didn’t call me to argue sin. He has called me to speak a message of reconciliation.
How does my church do this? We look for ways to get into our community. We look for opportunities to love and show kindness with no strings attached. When we launched, we used our marketing budget to give away free gasoline instead of sending out postcards. We gave away free gasoline on the Sunday before launching because we didn’t want to reach church people, we wanted to reach the unchurched. We didn’t send postcards because the only one that cares about a new church is a church person. So we showed love to our community, and this gave them a reason to care that we exist. With each act of love, we never force a conversation, but we pray they will ask why we do what we do. We give them each a card that says “God loves you, and so do we.” It allows them to know what motivates our love. On the card is a website url www.thewhy.one. It’s a unique link. You can’t find it by searching for it. You must type it in. And guess what, people do!
My church wakes up every day to “pray for one” based off of Luke 15. We pray, “God give me one person to share your love with.” Then we look, we watch, and we jump on opportunities to love people. We are in relentless pursuit of our community through prayer and action because we feel that is what Jesus would have of us. We will pray for people by name, building relationships with them while being gospel-focused. I believe these are prayers that tap into the heart of God.
So what is faith in America? America is my mission field. It’s ripe. Anything short of sin to reach people with the message of Jesus Christ, DO IT. Go. Pray for One.
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