One of the things I have thought about most during the last decade or so of life in the United States of America is just how sure so many people are about everything. I think it is easy to blame social media and the echo chambers with which people surround themselves for this, but this bone-deep certainty goes back further than that if we’re willing to be honest. We live in a country where some segment of the population was willing to put their lives on the line to break away from Great Britain. They chose their hill, and many of them died there. Ever since that time, Americans have continued to pick their hills and die on them.
And that is where the Christian history of the United States died as well. Do not misunderstand me. There have been many great Christians in this country, in the armed forces and outside of them, in politics, government, and all throughout the US, but as a country, we are not Christian. We have the separation of church and state, but this does not insulate us from overzealous Christians thumping their bible and saying this country was founded on “Judeo-Christian values” (this is totally not a thing, by the way, but that’s a different post).
No, what keeps us from being a Christian country is choice. Jesus explicitly tells us that we cannot have two masters, and time and again, as Christians in this country, we choose to follow not Jesus. We idolize every presidential candidate who promises us the moon. We lionize each and every senator who does what we like. We demonize “the other side” as though the folks on the other side of the room are not human. Do not mistake me. There are times to choose political sides and to stand against the forces of evil. That’s not what I’m talking about.
Why, in this rich country, are there those who are hungry, when Jesus tells us to feed them? Why are there those without a coat, and those with two, when John the Baptist tells us to share our extras? Why do we continue to bomb Afghanistan after two decades? Yemen after nearly 15 years? Why has Somalia been left in shambles, while we bomb them, since 1991? And more importantly, why do we not know about these conflicts?
If we are such a Christian country, why do we chose the wrong hills to die on? The hills of being right, of white supremacy, of war, of perfectionism, of “I gotta get mine or you’ll get it,” of turning an uncaring eye on the rest of the world, and every other wrong headed hill we can get our hands on?
Jesus told us how this would could be. He told us to sell it all, pick up our cross, and follow him. Jesus reminds us in this and every uncertain and troubled time to put our trust and loyalty in God. Jesus showed us which hill we are to die on, so let’s ask ourselves, which hill am I willing to die on today?