Sometimes Americans–especially American politicians–say:
“America is the Greatest Country in the World!”
That is an expression of national pride but it also reflects an attitude called “American Exceptionalism.” Historian Ian Tyrrell has defined Amercian Exceptionalism this way:
“Exceptionalism requires something far more: a belief that the U.S. follows a path of history different from the laws or norms that govern other countries. That’s the essence of American exceptionalism: The U.S. is not just a bigger and more powerful country — but an exception. It is the bearer of freedom and liberty, and morally superior to something called “Europe.”–Ian Tyrrell
There is no inherent conflict between being a Christian and being happy to be an American. There is a problem if, as Americans, we believe ourselves to be greater or “morally superior” (to quote Tyrrell, above, again) than people from other nations.
Just like people from other nations, Americans are fallen, lost, and under God’s perfect wrath apart from the grace of Jesus Christ. What Paul wrote in Titus 3:3 applies to every American as equally and fully as it does to any other person who has ever lived:
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”– Titus 3:3
The next two verses in Titus 3 apply to us, too, if we have faith in Christ:
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.Titus 3:4-5
As Christians, then, we have nothing to be proud of except who are God is and what he has done for us. The Scriptures tell us this over and over again:
- Jeremiah 9:23-24: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me….‘”
- Romans 3:25-27: “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement… to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded…“
- Romans 5:1-2: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
- Romans 5:11: ” we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
- 1 Corinthians 1:28-31: “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’“
I am happy to live in America and I enjoy the many freedoms that Americans have. But I am a sinner who is worthy only of God’s judgment and wrath. Therefore, I have the right to be proud of only one thing: Jesus Christ.
Be careful, Christian, that you are proud of nothing more than our God.