How American Christianity Differs From Kingdom Christianity
As a person born in America I am very thankful that I live in this nation. I did nothing to facilitate that as my parents lived in this nation as did their parents. Somewhere back in time my ancestors came from other countries to settle in this nation. For all it’s faults and failures, I still think we have one of the greatest countries in the world. I am thankful for the rights and privileges that I have in this nation.
I am an American!
I am also a Christian!
But I am not an American-Christian!
It seems in this nation that a lot of people want to label themselves by their ancestral nationality. We have Irish-Americans, German-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, etc. People want to identify themselves as American with a link to their lineage.
I would add to this list that we have Christian-Americans. And this would be a misnomer because it cannot be Biblical.
The Bible says that if we are followers of Jesus then our citizenship is of Heaven. More specifically we are citizens of the Kingdom of God.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Philippians 3:20)
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Eph. 2:19)
So, for me, I am first and foremost a citizen of God’s household and Kingdom, and then secondly I am an American.
The other point that has to be made is that America is not God’s hope for the world….Jesus is. I don’t believe that God is interested in American politics as much as He is interested in America being submitted to the Lordship of Jesus.
Jesus is Lord.
He is King.
Over all the earth!
What this means in practicality is that I cannot live my Christian life with an American mindset! Yet in America we have Christians trying to live with an American mindset in the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t and will not work! There is so much nationalistic thinking within the American Church that it has stopped us from truly showing the world the truest mark of our faith . . . love for one another.
Let’s explore some differences between “American Christianity” and “Kingdom Christianity.”
American Christianity is all about individual rights while Kingdom Christianity requires that we lay down our rights.
America was founded upon the rights of the individuals. Our Declaration of Independence declares that men were endowed, from their Creator, with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Whenever we feel those rights are being threatened we rise up in protest. American Christians are always protesting, fighting and yelling persecution when they feel that their rights are being violated.
However, Kingdom Christianity is built on just the opposite ideas. Kingdom Christianity is built on the idea of laying down your rights in order to serve, love and bless others. Kingdom Christianity is built upon the premise that Jesus laid aside His rights and privileges as God in order to serve those who should have served Him. He allowed his enemies to punish, torture and kill him without any retaliation or protest at all. He expects His followers to do the same.
The first Christians didn’t protest the Roman government over their rights. They willingly, and gladly, laid down their lives even to the point of death.
I am not saying that we cannot be involved in the political process. What I am saying is that the moment our American Christianity looks or acts different from our Kingdom Christianity then we must submit our American citizenship to our Kingdom citizenship. There are no rights in a kingdom, only in a democracy or a republic. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom not a republic or a democracy.
American Christianity is about the individual while Kingdom Christianity is all about community.
America wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the rugged individualism of the pioneers and those willing to do what others said couldn’t be done. America was forged out of the rugged idea of individualism. It goes hand in hand with our individual rights.
However, the Kingdom is all about community. God declared in the very beginning that it was not good for man to be alone. While this was referring to marriage, it applies to life in general. The apostle Paul compares the church to a human body designed to need each other and work together.
American Christianity has produced a “Personal Savior”, “Personal quiet time” and a “personal walk and experience” with Jesus. While Jesus is personal and wants to have a personal relationship with each person, the idea of Church and discipleship is community based. We read our Bibles individually and through the lens of individualism. Yet, most of the New Testament epistles were letters written to churches corporately. When Paul writes “you” in the epistles it would be more appropriately translated as a southern “ya’ll” because it is a plural you. We would do well to read the epistles from a community perspective.
We must learn to live in community in the American church. We need each other yet we are so divisive over issues that we should learn to allow freedom in.
In order to keep this from being a really longblog, I am going to break this up into several smaller posts. So, to be continued…..