A GREAT AMERICAN BUT A POOR CHRISTIAN: How our patriotism can hinder our walk with Christ

By: Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

No….I’m not anti-American. Really, I’m not. My father was a WWII and Korea veteran, my oldest brother fought in Vietnam and my other brother has served in Iraq for the most part of four years. I’m proud of each of them and believe in what they did and are doing. Truly, in so many ways, America is the greatest country in the world. Yet….as I review the traits that will lead people to say we are “great Americans” I cannot help but notice that many of them are the opposite of what God wants from us. Let me show you what I mean:

-Great Americans are known to be fiercely independent…yet Jesus spoke of being in total submission to the Lord……being a “slave” to Him and dependent on Him to meet our needs.
-Great Americans are known to take “pride” in all that they do…yet scripture speaks of pride coming before a fall….and that we are to be humble and put others ahead of ourselves.
-Great Americans are encouraged to work for what they want and pursue their desires…yet Christians are commanded to “die to self” and, as Oswald Chambers says, “give up the right to self”.
-Great Americans are taught to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps!”…yet the Apostle Paul rejoiced in his weakness because that was when Christ’s strength could shine.
-Great Americans are also taught to “take the bull by the horns” and get things done!...yet the Bible speaks of “waiting on the Lord” and listening to Him in leadership.

Again, I’m not trying to be anti-patriotic at all. I love America and am glad I live here. But I can’t help but echo the words of Philip Yancey when he writes,
“I understand more clearly than ever before that my ultimate loyalty lies with the kingdom of God, not the United States.”
I don’t think Mr. Yancey’s goal is to be un-American any more than mine is. Yet, when one really does some soul-searching and takes a hard look at what it really takes to be a servant of Christ, one cannot help but notice that the view is far different than what many of us are taught as children. And yet, in my own life, my tendencies to “do my own thing” and “be my own man” have certainly been a barrier when it comes to submitting to God and knowing Him in an intimate way.
And, for me…that has to change. You see, I’ve done my own thing for years. I’ve ran with creative ideas and bulldozed my plans in pursuit of what I wanted, of what I thought was best. I’ve always been good at coming up with my own ideas for life and then prayed that God would bless them, never dreaming that maybe I should prostrate myself before Him, learn to listen better, and ask Him what HE wanted for my life. In many ways, I’ve been a very good American…..but not the type of Christian who allowed God to mold me into who HE wanted me to be in His kingdom.
And what has all that gotten me? Temporary luxuries. A sense of pride in myself; pride that CERTAINLY led to a fall. A roller-coaster ride of short-term popularity, humiliation, short-term popularity, and obscurity. These traits have led me to take bold chances…only to find myself feeling the sting of failure as often as the taste of success. Mostly, my life has mirrored the journey many a ship has faced across an ocean with moments where the sea felt calm and hope abounded and other moments where the waves crashed against the sides of my life, threatening to drown me in foam. There have been times of victory as if my ship has discovered some new land and there have been seasons of storm that truly brought me to the verge of splintering into pieces and sinking to the depths. Without submission to the Lord and letting Him lead, life has been rudderless and with little sense of peace.
So, again….that has to change. And I’m working on it. I’m striving to be less aggressive and a better listener to the One who truly does “know it all” and has a plan for me personally. I’m trying to be less rigid and more malleable, like a piece of clay should be. I want to rely less on my own senses and more on His omniscience and flawless wisdom. And I struggle with it, daily. But….being a good American….I’ll keep trying, although TRYING harder to SUBMIT has a weird feel to it. But, my goal is to know God and be HIS man, HIS warrior, HIS slave, HIS child… in reality and not just in words.
Can one be a great American and a submitted Christian at the same time? I believe so. In fact, if you REALLY want to know, I believe that the only way for America to TRULY be great again is if her sons and daughters remembered what it was like to follow Him.

Aaron Welch is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor and certified sex offender treatment specialist. He strives to fight for the hearts of his clients and empower them to build a legacy that impacts the world. He is part of a team of experts at “The Llifeworks Group, Inc”. For more information about Aaron or Lifeworks, please visit www.lifeworksgroup.org or www.legacycounselingservices.org

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