The Church And America
Albert E. Farley
“America! America! God shed His grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!” These words, written by Katharine Lee Bates in her song, “America the Beautiful,” expresses the prayer that God will bless our nation. In another song, “God Bless America,” Irving Berlin wrote, “God Bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her Thru the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, My home sweet home.”
It is my personal belief that God, in His infinite wisdom, providentially allowed the United States of America to be established so that the great effort made here in the18th and 19th centuries to help restore the New Testament church of Christ would be accomplished, that the gospel of Christ might greatly be preached to men and women who would come here from every nation under heaven, and, by which, the gospel, from here, might be taken to every creature in the world! America has been a very powerful influence for good in the world, and we believe the world has been greatly blessed by the existence of America. I am very thankful to be an American.
America, however, is not the church, and it has fallen far short of being a holy nation. America is a kingdom of this world. The United States was established by the efforts of men and by the warfare of the Revolutionary War in which many hundreds of men shed their blood. Jesus Christ built His church, and, of it, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world …” Mt 16:18-19; Jn 18:36. He purchased His church with His own blood upon the cross. Acts 20:28.
The grand mountains and hills of West Virginia and the U.S. cannot compare with Zion, “the mountain of the Lord’s house” that was established in the top of the mountains and exalted above the hills. Isa 2:1-3. Zion is the church, and, today, all nations flow unto it. Those who become members in it beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and they do not learn carnal war any more. 2 Cor 10:3-5; Eph 6:10-18.
We are grateful for the Constitution of the United States, including the first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights). These provide the freedoms of religion, the press, and of peaceable assembly. However, the U.S. Constitution cannot compare with “the perfect law of liberty,” the New Testament of Jesus Christ! Jam 2:12. This, and only this, can provide true freedom. Jn 8:31-32; Rom 6:16-18.
One of our past presidents spoke of America as a shining city on a hill. Although the United States has, I believe, been an influence for good in the world, it has also been the source of much suffering and evil – as have all nations. The wickedness of our nation – centered mostly in our sinful cities – illustrates how much our citizens need the words of Jesus. Speaking of His disciples, Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid … Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Mt 5:14-16. The holy nation of the Bible is the church, not America. 1 Pet 2:9.
The citizens of the United States enjoy many protections and privileges. We have the civic right to worship and the political right to participate in government and elect our representatives. Our duties include our obligation to be subject unto the civil authorities and to render to all their dues, tributes, and customs. Rom 13:1-8. We must pray for all who are in authority and not speak evil of dignities. Jude 8. We must not allow our citizenship in America to override and cancel our obligations to God. Mt 22:21 “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.
Friends, There is no eternal advantage of being an American citizen. We cannot go to heaven by simply being a good American. One may be the greatest American patriot and lose his soul! Paul said, “For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philip 3:20. How do we become citizens of God’s holy nation, the kingdom and church of Christ? We must hear, study, and learn the gospel of Christ. We must believe in Christ, repent of our sins, confess our faith in Christ, and be buried with Him in baptism for the remission of sins. We must be born again. Jn 3:1-5. The Lord delivers the faithfully obedient out of the power of darkness (Satan’s realm) into the kingdom and church of His dear Son. Col 1:13; Acts 2:41, 47. One may do this and never even hear of America.
What is the future of America? I do not know. I do know that “Righteousness exhalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.” I know that “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain.” Ps 127:1. On the last day, the earth and all of the works in it shall be burned up. The kingdom of Christ will continue to grow like the great stone of Daniel 2:44. It will break in pieces and consume all of the kingdoms of the earth, and it will stand forever!
Where is your citizenship? –Editor.
Return to West Virginia Christian