So I went to a new church on Sunday, which for the purposes of this post will remain nameless and I really liked it. Overall I thought that it was really good. The community was diverse on pretty much every level and the sermon was solid, if a little fluff-ish. But there was something that kind of put me off in the service that I've been mulling over for the past couple of days. In the middle of the worship set, the worship team broke into "America the Beautiful" and asked the congregation to "sing it to Jesus." Now, granted, it was the ten year anniversary of 9/11 and the song does pointedly reference God's grace, but the whole thing kind of came across as just, well, wrong. While I'm hugely thankful for the unique freedoms and opportunities that are afforded me spiritually just by living in this country, singing a song that espouses how awesome the country is in the middle of a worship set just seems messed up to me. We already struggle enough with a misplaced sense that being an American makes you inherently more Christian, why push that further by trying to turn a song about America's worth into a worship moment. It just seems like an easy way to reinforce that mindset.
We are blessed it is true. We are fortunate. We are provided with liberty and freedom and tolerance that we have done little to deserve. Those things are certainly worth being thankful for. But at the end of the day the institution that is America is not what we should be pointing our eyes towards but instead the One who placed us there without us deserving it. I get concerned when honoring our home country reaches worshipful levels because what does that say to Christians who are in Uganda, Rwanda, Thailand, etc. Should they be less thankful for where God has placed them? I just feel like the whole thing puts a misplaced importance on our nation when in reality that spotlight should be focused on God and listening to see where he's leading us out.