The awful ambiguity of Babylon’s fallenness is expressed consummately in Babylon’s delusion that she is, or is becoming, Jerusalem… The moral pretenses of Imperial Rome, the millenial claims of Nazi Germany, the anxious insistence that America be ‘number one’ among the nations are all versions of Babylon’s idolatry.
–William Stringfellow, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens In A Strange Land
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world…” John 18:36a
In this election season we hear a great deal about making America successful again, making her great again, keeping her ‘first in the world’ economically, militarily, and in other ways. Sometimes we even hear these claims merged with religious language, so that American prosperity and victory are seen as signs of God’s favor and America is compared to Israel in the Old Testament, the nation on whom God’s favor rests.
This merging is perilous. It tempts us to confuse America’s ‘success’ with the realization of God’s kingdom in this world; to give the success of our country, or of the party which we trust to make the country prosper, the kind of primary and complete allegiance that we owe only to God, to fall into idolatry.
This temptation is dangerous to us personally, warping our priorities and wasting our passion. It is also dangerous to our nation and to the other members of the community of nations, for it makes it impossible for us to hold our nation morally accountable. It encourages us to turn a blind eye to the violence and corruption which are woven into the life of our nation like all other nations, instead of working to heal these evils.
As Christians our task is not to promote our nation at the expense of others but to make God’s Kingdom visible on earth as it is in heaven. As Christian preppers we live into the Kingdom by keeping time for prayer, caring for our neighbors, stewarding the land well and working with care and diligence. As Christian citizens we must also try to shape a nationwide society in which it is easier for people to live as citizens of the Kingdom. There is plenty of room for discernment and disagreement about how we are to carry out this task. But we have a better chance of working effectively and faithfully if we remember what our task really is.