Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Make America Great Again?

This post has been on my heart to write for a while. It's taken me a long time to figure out the right words to express what I have been feeling and I also have been hesitant due to the touchiness of this topic. I am not one to write about politics but I feel that this topic goes beyond politics in to the very heart of our morality as the American Church. Trump has campaigned that he will, "Make America Great Again!" But I have a few questions about that campaign:

What has made America great in the past?
Why should we be focused on America specifically?
Who decides what great is?

I probably should have written this post a long time ago, before he became president, but I guess it is "better late than never". So I will look into each of these three questions in this post:

What has made America great in the past?

First of all, a true look at America's past will show us that we were not always so great. We took over the Native American's land with a lot of blood shed, we brought the Africans from their home as slaves, and even as recently as the 40's we locked up Japanese in internment camps for no reason other than their race. 

That being said we have had some great things throughout our history. The biggest thing that has made America great is that our borders have been open to those who needed a new start. America has been a land of opportunity to those who were stuck in poverty, war, and places of famine. America has been a place where all cultures can come and be considered one people and have a chance for the values of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In other words, closing our borders to those who need us does not make us great. In fact, it takes away the very nature of our "greatness". 

Why should we be focused on America specifically?

This has been the most nagging question for me over that past few months. Whenever I heard or saw the slogan I wondered, "why America?" 

Trump has talked about bringing jobs from overseas but what is wrong with providing jobs to those in poverty in other countries? Why shouldn't we focus on advocating for companies to increase the pay and improve the working conditions for those in other countries working for them? 

Trump has talked about protecting our borders from terrorism but what about those who are dealing with daily terror in countries that are in constant war? Why should they be lower on our priority list? 

Aren't we all people? Aren't we all human? Why should we focus on ourselves over everyone else? That doesn't sound very Christian to me.

Which brings me to my final question:

Who decides what great is?

As Christians we believe and recognize that God is the ultimate good. The Bible says, "every good and every perfect gift comes from above..." (James 1:17) so we must look to Him for what is good and, even more so, for what is great. 

So what does God say is great?

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

If we want America to be great than we need America to be a servant. We need America to continue to serving the poor and less fortunate. To serve those who are in need. To serve the rest of the world.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-5)

If we want America to be great than we need leaders who will lead with humility. Who will lead with childlike faith and be willing to admit when they are wrong.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Most importantly, to make America great, we need to learn to love as a nation again. We can not be built on hate, fear, or rejection. We must learn to love God and to love our neighbors. I think it is fitting that when Jesus was asked who our neighbor is he responded with a story about a Samaritan. The Samaritan was a group of people who were rejected by the Jews. They were considered unclean because their bloodline was mixed with foreigners. Jesus, with one simple story, rejected this entire idea. Yet somehow this idea has never seemed to fully leave the Church.

I pray that Trump will learn what true greatness is according to God. I pray that he will learn servitude, humility, and love. I also pray for all of those who followed Trump in his call to make America great again that they would also re-evaluate what they mean by great.