“CHURCHES TURN TO FLAG FOR COMFORT” was the headline of a recent article in the newspaper. This of course is the assessment of the writer of the article. She wrote that, “The American flag has replaced the cross as the most visible symbol in many churches across the country since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.” Even the pledge of allegiance “has replaced the Nicene or Apostles’ Creeds at some worship services.” The emphasis on the flag instead of the cross is not appreciated by all, however. We would agree.
In the weeks since September 11, there has been a surge of patriotism. People all across our land have been flying the flag like not before. The flag is flying at the parsonage. Christians are also patriots. It is surely appropriate to have a heart for the country in which we live, and to pray for its survival according to the will of God, as well as for its leaders. Moreover, yes, Christians who have a heart for this land and nation will pray that righteousness may prevail in it, even as they pray that the Lord will turn the hearts of the people to Him.
But this country will eventually fade away. When the Lord God comes in judgment, it, with all nations of the earth, will disappear. That is why the Christian los for a better land, and an enduring city, the heavenly Jerusalem to which all believers in the Savior, Jesus Christ, will go. It is a better land and enduring city because in the midst of it is the throne of God. In it there will be no more sorrow, tears, sin or death, only joy forevermore at the right hand of God. The residents of that country, eternal in the heavens, shall have peace far greater than that for which we earnestly pray for our nation in its present crisis.
Therefore, they who desire that country will keep the cross of the Lord Jesus as their focus.
In the cross of Christ I glory,
Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time,
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.
When the woes of life o’er-take me,
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me;
Lo, it glows with peace and joy. (LH 354)
The beauty of the cross lies in the fact that it was the altar upon which our Lord Jesus was sacrificed for our sins. It was the instrument by which He removed our sins from us, having taken them upon Himself. It is the true source of comfort for the Christian, because it speaks to us of the righteousness of Christ, which has been credited to our account. It is the righteousness that is acceptable to the Father, and through which the Father shall welcome us into the home in heaven.
Comfort in the flag? No! Comfort is in the CROSS!
Thy cross I’ll place before me,
Its saving power o’er me,
Wherever I may be;
Thine innocence revealing,
Thy love and mercy sealing
The pledge of truth and constancy. (LH 171)