In Matthew 20, the mother of James and John (very embarrassing for them, I'm sure) asks Jesus to give her sons places of significance and power when he comes to power. He responds by saying, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you."
I think that we American Christians still have trouble with all of this. We tend toward creating parallels between orthodox Christianity and particular political agendas. We put the American flag and the flag of the church side-by-side in many sanctuaries. But I'm pretty sure that the kingdom of God is not the kingdom of America--or any other country, for that matter.
If we honor our country as many of us claim, then perhaps we would serve it better by taking more seriously our call to be God's people for the sake of the world. I'm convinced that the doctrine of election is not about who God picked to go to heaven and those who are destined to be the presto-logs of hell (sorry Augustine, Luther and Calvin). I believe that election is about God electing a people (via Abraham) to be his special people, orienting all that they are around God, and being that people not for themselves, but for the sake of the entire world (see Genesis 12, 22 and John 3 for some good scoop on this. Also, Lesslie Newbigin has a lot to say on this topic). So rather than see our power as being political in nature, perhaps we could see that God's power is manifest as we live out our destiny as God's people.
At this writing, our nation (our world!) is undergoing a huge economic upheaval. Most economists are saying that things will ultimately stabilize, but much will be different in the future. That could be good down the road.
What if all the Americans who claim an affinity to Christian faith would, for example, stop purchasing useless stuff called Christmas presents in December? What if we said, "From now on, we're going to gather together and thank God of the birth of Jesus. We're going to celebrate by serving the poor, caring for the sick and proclaiming the good news. And we're going to do that in August, which is probably when Jesus was born anyway." That would louse up end-of-the-year retail sales for awhile. Christians might take a black eye or two over that, but (like our current crisis), things would probably stabilize after awhile, probably for the better.
I'm just thinking out loud here (after all, there are some CDs I'd like to get for Christmas).
What do you think?