I’ve discovered that as a youth, campus, associate, or worship minister you can have many nontraditional beliefs, and yet be able to keep them to yourself. Once you become the preacher there is no more hiding. It is a little more difficult to keep some of your more “radical” views and beliefs to yourself. Since I have become a preacher I have dreaded the day that certain topics get discussed – yesterday was one of those days. Please note that I realize I may be in the minority with what follows, and that some of you may vehemently disagree with my stance.
One of our members gave me a DVD about 6 months ago that he wanted me to show during worship one Sunday. The DVD is of a song called Before You Go. It is a tribute to our war veterans from WW2 and it is extremely patriotic. I am very very uncomfortable mixing patriotism with worship. So I hoped that if I just put it to the side and didn’t say anything about it maybe he would forget that he gave it to me. Well, he brought it up last month and I told him we would talk about it. A month later (last night) I finally get the nerve up to talk to him about my views and why I was delaying a response to him. He did not agree with my stance and had a hard time wrapping his mind around my beliefs, but he did not argue.
Again, I realize I may be in the minority on this one but I feel very strongly about it. Let me share a short rationale. When we come together to worship we are gathering as people whose citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). We gather as exiles or strangers (1 Peter 1:1). Our citizenship knows no borders, and our brothers and sisters are made up of all nations, because our God is the God of all nations. His house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations (Mark 11:17). I believe that when we raise our country’s flag in our services of worship and pay tribute to those who have shed blood for our land we are placing our loyalty and allegiance to our national citizenship above our loyalty and allegiance to our Kingdom citizenship.
I believe this is especially problematic in a place such as the city I live in, Lafayette, IN. We are a college town – Purdue University. Purdue pulls people in from all races and all nations to study. There are people from India, China, Japan, Germany, Russia, Africa, Scotland, etc… On any given Sunday there is the possibility of having a brother or sister from one of those nations worshiping with us. They come (like me) to worship and pledge their allegiance to the God of all nations, not to America’s flag – land – or soldiers.
Now, let me be very clear. Many take my stance to be one that dishonors (or shows a lack of respect) to America’s war veterans. That is not the case at all. Our congregation is made up of many veterans and I have sat with them and heard their stories and honored their accomplishments. I’m grateful for the freedom that I enjoy today because of them. I just do not believe that our corporate worship gathering (our time of enthroning Jesus as Lord) is the appropriate place for patriotic sentiments.
That is where I am in my faith journey. Now, let the stoning begin.