Very insightful comments yesterday. The truth is this: baptism makes you a bad American. Of course, it also makes you a bad Brazilian, Ugandan, etc. In one sense, it makes you a much better citizen, because you become a person of character and prayer as the Spirit works in your life. But in another sense, you become a "problem" to your country because you are no longer identified primarily as a citizen of that nation. You are an alien and stranger, whose citizenship is in heaven. You have come to see God's mission for the whole world--not just for the country you happen to live in. You realize that nations come and go--just as the one you currently live in may one day go--but the kingdom continues to break in. You understand that the goal isn't to produce a strong country, but to participate in the countercultural work of God among us. I consider myself a patriot. And yet at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance (which I gladly recite), I usually feel like I should turn to people around me and say, "Please take this with a grain of salt. I pledge allegiance to the flag. But not my ultimate allegiance. My ultimate allegiance is to Jesus Christ--the one who loves 'all the little children of the world.'" I've known so many people who can get whipped up into a political fervor by some ranting and raving radio shock jock. But they yawn through the church's assembly. I believe . . . -that there is more power in the prayer of a nursing-home-bound elderly woman who spends her waning hours consumed by thoughts of God than in the decision of important people who gather in city halls and state capitals; -that I have more in common with an urban Kenyan who has never traveled a mile beyond his hut but who confesses the name of Jesus than with a neighbor who lives in middle-class America but who isn't a Christ-follower; -that as an "alien and stranger" in this world, my primary identity is as a baptized believer and not as an American (as thankful as I am to be a citizen of this country); -that the church's job isn't primarily to wave flags in support of war (though, according to strict "just war" theories war may sometimes be reluctantly necessary) but to pray "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."