Friday, July 01, 2011

Reflections on the Fourth: A Global Perspective

4th of July was always one of my favorite holidays. I have always loved the summer feel with plenty of sunshine, family, friends, food, and beer. But I also loved it for so much more. I loved it because it was a day to celebrate the “best country in the world." Back in high school and my early college years, my friends and family can attest that I was one of the most patriotic people you could know. Mix that with the passionate edge I have towards almost anything I am fixated on, and what you have is one zealous person.

To illustrate an example of this, I owned a Dodge Durango at that time. You know, a perfect vehicle for a 19 year old living in the desert of Arizona. Of course, my license plate was personalized as well…reading: “onetyme”. But that’s a different story and I won’t go into that here …and every 4th of July in my patriotic fervor, I would buy American flags and hang them on the outside of my truck. I would ride through the city honking my horn chanting “USA, USA, USA” to anyone who would listen. I would bash liberals, homosexuals, hippies, foreigners, and whoever wasn’t like me basically. It was a perfect picture of who I was…

During this time, I also went on a missions trip to Argentina . It was an amazing experience…and to this day I can look back on the missions trips I did during that phase in my life and see that God was starting and cultivating what would later become my life’s calling. But I certainly didn’t know it then….but back to the story… I did really love Argentina, its people, and sharing the gospel. But when I landed back in America after a long month away from home, the first thing I did was kiss the ground. I was so happy to be back on American soil. I even wrote in my journal that I “missed the freedom of America”. Really? I missed…freedom? I wasn’t free in Argentina? Shows just how mixed up I was in my nationalistic tendencies.

Then Jesus stepped into my life…and He radically changed me…He changed my heart. He changed my worldview.

Part of this change was God’s huge sense of humor calling me to be a missionary. I mean, think about it… he called a patriotic, nationalistic zealot who kissed American soil when coming back from overseas to be a…missionary!?!? WHAT?!?! I am convinced to this day that He does things like this to show just how radically He can change ones heart and that the true power and change can only come from Him.

Anyway… He broke my nationalistic pride that was arrogant and self-righteous. He sent me to one of the toughest, most hated countries in the world and simultaneously cultivated a heart in me for “widows, orphans, and foreigners..” and the other words: the marginalized of the world. He did this by showing me that we too come from a spiritual family of foreigners and sojourners. He gave me His heart for every “tribe, tongue, and nation” and His worldview of love for “all that He has created.” He showed me that he favors no nation and is the Father of all people. Because God is the Creator and Father of all, in some sense the whole global community is one big family. But even more importantly in the context of this blog post and the 4th of July holiday, God showed me that the only TRUE freedom that we have is in Jesus..and that is available to all. Worldly freedoms are nice, but they don’t trump God’s. And He shows me the irony of the apostle Paul who was given freedom, yet still called himself a “slave to Christ.” Paul turned the freedom given to him in Jesus… to become a slave of Jesus. Amazing.

Now 7/4/2011 rolls in. But I don’t hang American flags outside my car windows anymore. I don’t run around chanting USA, USA, USA... I guess I have changed…I approach 7/4/11 with a global, macro worldview and not a national, micro worldview. I believe I have family in Central Asia, brothers and sisters in the slums of India, and see myself in the immigrants of the USA. I don’t believe God has a special place in His heart for America or any nation, and in my desire to be more like him: neither do I….. I no longer feel like I am an American. I feel like I am a World-ican. My heart knows no nationalistic pride and borders. My heart transcends nationalism and borders.

I would never say there is anything wrong with loving America (and Americans) In fact, I love America (and Americans). But my worldview formed by the God of the entire world won’t allow me to love this country or its people anymore than I love Saudi Arabians, or Afghans, or Indians, or Germans, or Chileans, or any other person or nation that I don’t come from/wasn’t born in…because, deep down in my heart…I truly believe… that we are all….one.


Enriqueta Turanzas said...

Thank you so much for this Grant, seriously. I had spent some time interviewing migrant families the last couple of weeks and have heard stories that just saddened me.The harassment of American migrants is really hitting families hard here in the Midwest. Some good friends who are Catholic priests are alongside in the trenches trying to stand up where they can w/them. I had been so upset, angry but then remembered the brokenness of men and women in the world. God is definitely opening my eyes to my nationalistic pride, specifically this year. Your post hit it home...

Josiah said...

I keep hearing a chorus:
the kingdom of this world, is become
the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.
And He shall reign for ever and every
King of kings.Lord of Lords.
Forever. And ever.

But that's just me.