On the Fourth of July, America's patriotism soars. We love to sing "God Bless America" and refer to our country as the "greatest country in the world." We may not say it out loud, but if you ask Americans if they think God has some sort of "special" relationship with our country, you'd be surprised how many would say yes. People just kind of equate America with Christianity, right?
But where does this come from? Where did we get the idea that #blessed meant we were Christians? I wanted to look more into this idea, and I came across the book of Job. Job was called "blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8) Satan asks permission to try to get Job to curse God. But God was so confident in Job's love for Him, that He let Satan take away his wealth, his family, his health-- his everything, but his life. Job's friends, who were watching all of this unfold, confused Job's trials with suffering. They wanted to have compassion on him, but rather, they chose to make accusations about his character. They inferred that Job must have sinned in some way they didn't know about and that God was punishing him. They equated a lack of physical blessings with a lack of right-standing with God.
But in chapter 21, Job gives us some insight on why those who love God seem to struggle and those who don't love God seem to prosper. Reading this hit home for me. Verse 7-9 says, "Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? Their offspring are established in their presence, and their descendants before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them." Those whom Job was referring to were living longer, becoming more powerful, and making their lives as comfortable as possible just like we are now. And they were far from God. But we, as a country, wouldn't say that. Some of us even refer to the U.S. as "God's country."
But why do we think God loves America more? On what ground can we base our perspective? Well, when you look into the New Testament, our relationship with God does a complete 180. Instead of abiding by laws to appease God, we meet Jesus, who came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died so that we don't have to. Right? I think just about everyone would be okay with a God who just did everything for us and we could just go back to living how we wanted to. But that God doesn't exist. Scripture paints a beautiful picture of God, who loves us TOO MUCH to let us just do what we want, to keep on sinning. He loves us SO MUCH that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die so that we might have a relationship with Him.
Anyone in a relationship can testify that it takes work. In order to truly get to know a person, you must spend time with them. And I mean REALLY spend time with them. This doesn't mean sending them a text every couple of days, or meeting up with them once a week. But why do we treat a relationship with God this way?
How do we have a real relationship with God? How do we "get right" with Him? In Romans 3, Paul tells us, "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (vs. 21-24) This is such good news! Paul is saying that neither race, nor gender, nor social class can keep you from having a relationship with God. That we can do so because of Christ, but we must do so through faith. Think about it like this: Christ opened the door, we just have to walk through the threshold. We have to believe in what is on the other side. No one can make you walk through the doorway. No one can push you or pull you away from the threshold. It is your decision.
Later on in verse 29, Paul proposes these questions, "Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also." Let's think about what that means for us today. Is God the God of America only? Or is He not the God of Syria? And North Korea? And every other nation under the Sun? Yes, of the entire world also.
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