Heard an intriguing quote from an unlikely source during my commute .mp3 listening. The discussion started in relationship to how “Christmas” seems to get earlier and earlier every year, no longer held back by the buffer of Thanksgiving. I bet nobody will Guess Who…
“If we’re not self-consciously following and walking through time being guided by the Christian calendar, then we tend to get things out of whack. In other words, if I’m following the Christian calendar, there’s no question; I know what the most important thing in history is. The most important thing is that Jesus came, he lived among men, he died on the cross, he rose again from the dead, he ascended up into heaven, and he poured out his Spirit. That’s what is important, that’s the most important thing that ever happened.
“The pilgrims making it through that first winter was great, and it’s wonderful. But that’s not the most important thing that ever happened. The colonies declaring their independence from Great Britain, I think was a good thing; I’m thankful for it, I’m thankful for their example, I’m thankful for their courage, I’m thankful for many, many things about that, but that’s not the most important thing in history. My children’s birthdays are important, and I want to celebrate them, and we do. But that’s not the most important birth that’s happened in history. It’s fine to celebrate these things if we keep them in perspective.
“The problem is, without the Christian calendar, we don’t keep them in perspective, so that people begin to think, ‘If I don’t say the pledge of allegiance, or if I don’t sing the national anthem, I’m a very bad person.’ Well, maybe I am, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate that. What if I’m from Norway? I may be a very godly person, but I don’t feel compelled to say the pledge of allegiance, and I certainly don’t want to sing the national anthem. It’s not my country. And I don’t think those things necessarily tell you anything about the patriotism of a person, but we’ve gotten that way in part because that’s how we view ourselves. We view ourselves as Americans first, and oh yes, we are Christians. And that’s important too. and we almost fall over ourselves, after a while, realizing, we know instinctively that’s not right, to think of ourselves as Americans first, or to be more offended over the fact that somebody said something against America than we are when they say something against Jesus.
“We are not Americans first. We are thankful for our country, we love our country, we want to support our country and do good to our country; we’re good neighbors, we follow the fifth commandment, we honor our fathers and mothers. But we are Christians first. [For] the same reason we don’t have flags in our churches — why? Is it because we hate America? No! It’s because we realize the church is a different family. The church is the primary family, that’s the family that includes all nations and peoples. And I really don’t want a Korean coming into our church thinking ‘This is an American church.’ No, it’s a Christian church. And you need to understand that we are Christians first, and we recognize our brotherhood — that water is thicker than blood. We are Christians first, and baptism is far more important than the nation of your origin — that’s far more important. And every Christian knows that, but we tend to lose sight of that, in part — and it’s in part –because we don’t think anymore [of?] time in terms of Jesus and his life and his work. And that’s why the [church] calendar is important — or one of the reasons.”