Down through history it has been easy to domesticate God, and make God the God of the "Fatherland." There has been a sense among many who live in the United States, that we are a chosen nation, a nation that is especially blessed by God. Why is it that we believe this? Well, there are any number of reasons, that ultimately come down to military might and economic power. After 9-11, the question was asked: why do they hate us so? Well, instead of admitting our tendency toward arrogance, we suggested that the world was jealous of our freedoms. Well, yes in a sense they are. But what they're often angry with is our tendency to prop up undemocratic governments that we don't like. Remember in the 1950s the CIA overthrew an elected secular, but socialist government in Iran, and restored the Shah. Remember that we did the same in the 1970s in Chile, again we engineered a coupe that over threw an elected Socialist government. We talk about freedom, but we're afraid of what might happen if people actually exercised their freedom. Remember Hamas -- they gained power through an election that we (and the Israeli's) didn't like.
I'm not saying this to diss my country. I'm proud to be an American. I consider myself a patriot. But I'm also cognizant that we must, if we're truly a free nation, be willing to recognize the dark points in our history. In large part this needs to happen so we can become an honest and less arrogant player on the world stage. So, I'll celebrate the birth of the nation on Monday, but on Sunday I'll want to be reminded that our loyalties extend far beyond national boundaries. I want to be reminded that God not only loves Americans, but God loves all humanity, no matter where they live. Yes, God is God of all the nations.
The hymn: "This Is My Song" (Lloyd Stone, sung to Finlandia) reflects this perspective quite well:
This is my song, O God of all the nations,a song of peace for lands afar and mine.This is my home, the country where my heart is;here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;but other hearts in other lands are beatingwith hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
We can love our country, be proud of it, without denigrating other countries our believing that God somehow loves us more. So, celebrate, but do so mindful of God's broader love of all creation.