Can We Be Both?

Strength. That is the most important quality when it comes to “American Greatness”. We get the job done.

Ideals. The dialogue between unity and diversity. Service (ala JFK’s “Ask not…” speech). Generosity. Justice. Equal opportunity for all. Protection for the vulnerable – at home and abroad. These attributes, not military might or strength, are what makes America “great”.

Jonathan Chait unpacks these two – strength and ideals – and the tension that can exist between them in a New York Magazine article on Patriotism.

This is a relevant conversation, not just for patriotism expressed in politics or on the football field, but for religious faith and conviction as well. Consider the temptation Jesus endures. Turn stones to bread; believe God is on your side – even when you do something as foolish as throwing yourself off a cliff; have the power and prestige of the entire world at your command. Religious people and institutions are tempted by the promise of strength and greatness. One of the easiest ways to convince ourselves that we are deserving of such strength is that, unlike anyone else, we would use it for the good of others.

I don’t know if nation states can sell the notion that greatness and power and strength are lived out on the anvil of humility, vulnerability, even weakness; but that’s the message of Jesus. That’s the strength of the Christian. That’s the path of the church.

Consider today how this tension plays out in your own life – at work, at home, at church, in your relationships. Just how “mighty” are you? And how “mighty” do you want others to think you are?

A blessed Tuesday.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.