Most gospel believers were appalled when the news media ran clips recorded at a Sunday morning service in September 2001 when the Rev. Jeremiah Wright declared, “God Damn America.” Reactions to the pastor’s outburst ranged from amazement to outrage. Rev. Wright is the retired pastor of the South Chicago church where Presidential nominee, Barack Obama worshipped for more than 20 years.
While I completely agree with the outrage I wonder about the sincerity of those who criticize Rev. Wright, especially when the criticism comes from the Christian right. When similar “damnation” statements are made by right wing Christian ministers there is little or no criticism. Our case in point is the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, who claimed “9/11 was God’s judgment over America’s sins.” After hurricane Katrina, numerous preachers declared that this was God’s judgment over the sins of New Orleans. Others claimed that hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment over the Bush government for encouraging Israel to move out of Gaza. The idea was that Gaza belongs to the Jewish people and by encouraging the removal of Jewish settlements God’s wrath was incurred. In fairness I have never heard any of those preachers say “God damn America”, but in essence they were saying those deplorable words. If indeed 9/11 or hurricane Katrina were God’s judgment, it would be God damning America. I am equally appalled at these statements whether they come from the Christian left or the Christian right, because both sides show an equal misunderstanding of the time in which we live. This is not the day of God’s judgment, this is the day of God’s grace. God already judged America’s sins when Jesus became the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world at the cross.
Some have suggested that if God doesn’t judge America for its sins He would have to apologize for Sodom and Gomorrah, a statement that again shows an utter misconception of the gospel. In fact if God were to judge America like he judged Sodom and Gomorrah he would have to apologize to Jesus Christ for sending America’s sins onto Jesus at the cross. God is not unjust to punish a crime twice. The sins of the world have been punished “once for all.”
Does that mean the whole world is saved? Certainly not! Romans 5:10 declares “for if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, much more, having been reconciled, we should be saved by His life.”
Do we fast, pray, study the Bible and repent in order for God to show His love to us? No, He loved us when we were His enemies.
How was God’s love expressed? By the reconciliation of the world to God through Jesus’ death on the cross. (2 Cor. 5:19)
Did we have a choice in whether God would reconcile us to Himself or not? No, God did not ask our permission for Him to send His son on our behalf.
How are we saved? By receiving Jesus’ life.
This is our message to the world. The One, who put away your sins by one sacrifice rose again and is alive today. Now open your heart to receive Him! Be born again! Be ye reconciled to God, since God is reconciled to you. No our message is not “God damn America”; it is God loves America. God is a Father of hugs and kisses, as Jesus told us in the story of the prodigal son. Whether you are on the Christian left or the Christian right, I urge you to leave the trap of legalistic merit-based religion and come to Jesus who alone is able to save.