We Americans enjoy celebrating a lot of stuff.
Those of us who consider ourselves Christians like to talk about and celebrate God. That goes without saying.
We like to celebrate family too.
Some of us like to celebrate freedom.
Or even America itself. Many of us will celebrate America in just a couple of weeks…on Flag Day, the most important and widely celebrated holiday of national patriotism. Well, maybe not. Most of us will celebrate a lot of “American” stuff a couple of weeks after that. I don’t really know what Flag Day is for.
Here’s what’s happening though, and it might be something to think about the next time we come to a holiday or other celebration.
People can celebrate anything they want. Americans celebrate a lot of diverse values. But those of us who celebrate God, had better be extra careful.
Because God is sharing space with a lot of other things that seem to get equal billing.
Here’s what I mean.
America’s New Trinity
I first noticed it when Duck Dynasty was in the middle of all that useless hooplah last year.
The show commonly refers to some permutation of the phrase “God, Guns, Family.”
“That’s interesting,” I thought.
The history channel ran a much lesser-known and short-lived show last year called “God, Guns and Automobiles.” Of course, the show wasn’t really about God. It was about cars. But it probably appealed to the “DD” crowd too.
“Hmmm…” I thought to myself, “A show that is just three nouns that don’t seem to be related whatsoever.” Okay, so some people are sick and tired of the corrosive tripe that is usually reality TV, and they would actually watch people who have some “values,” for God’s sake. Is that so bad?
No, it’s not so bad. Reality TV is a cesspool that corrupts our minds after all. My sister-in-law is a great Christian, but she actually defends, even likes Omarosa in her various reality TV incarnations. (I think this alone could be grounds for her church to dismiss her and my brother to divorce her.)
What I realized, the more I thought about it is that this is the new normal of American Christianity. It isn’t isolated to a couple of silly reality shows. It’s not just a cute catchphrase or a title card. This is American religion:
…and whatever else God shares equal billing with.
What Is Your Three Part Religion?
Some of you are thinking, “Yeah, way to stick it to those backwater conservatives! They’re such morons. I’m much smarter because guns aren’t a part of my superior religion.”
But everyone has their own little three-part catchphrase, I bet.
For some people, God gets equal billing with “equality.”
Or maybe the Constitution, if that’s your political bent.
For other people, it’s capitalism.
Some people would put “marriage” on the same pedestal as God. For some people, it’s gay marriage. For other people, it’s the other kind of marriage.
For some people, “freedom” gets top billing along with God. Of course, they don’t usually mean “freedom” for everyone, just the kind of freedom they happen to prefer.
Oh, it could even be a theological something.
God and immersion baptism.
God and Five Point Calvinism.
Or it could be some point of legalism that we enjoy.
God and tithing ten percent.
Or God and not drinking alcohol.
Or maybe more accurately for our generation, God and the freedom in Christ to drink as much alcohol as I want.
It could even be family or children.
Surely that couldn’t be bad, right? Family is everything, isn’t it?
What Belongs In a List With God?
There’s just the matter of these pesky verses where Jesus says that his followers must “despise” their families, that even our families must rank lower on the list of priorities than he does.
It turns out that God really really doesn’t like sharing the stage. He doesn’t like his name to be given equal billing to other stuff. It doesn’t matter how good any of that other stuff is. It becomes bad if it’s made equal to God.
Freedom is bad, if it’s given equal priority with God.
Marriage is bad if it is values as much as God.
Even family becomes an idol unless it is made lower than God.
I suppose anything, even religion, even going to church become warped when this thing or this action is equated with God.
If we are going to make a cute list of our top priorities, and one of them is “God,” then that is what the list should be:
There is nothing else that gets listed with the Creator of the universe.
And that’s that. Take everything else off the list. What do you say? By placing things on our list, do we make them into idols? What else needs to be taken off our lists?