You have seen the videos and heard the words of Mr. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ—and please notice the distinction from the Churches of Christ—when he repeatedly denounced America with false charges. His position on asking God to bless America is this. The government, “wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America.” What if God answers that prayer and damns America?
God Bless America
This is both a request and a statement of fact. God has blessed America although she is not perfect. Does a nation or person have to be perfect before God blesses that nation or person? Does every citizen in a country have to be living in luxury before we can say God has blessed that nation? We want God to bless us, not because of our worthiness, because we are unworthy, for truly “God shed His grace on thee.” Grace is unmerited favor! May that not be a license to continue to sin, but to live in righteousness, which was Paul’s argument in Romans 5.20–6.2ff. Also, listen to the prayer of Moses for Israel, “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance” (Exo 34.9).
Moses recognized their shortcomings, nevertheless, he did not ask God to curse Israel, but to bless her with His presence. Therefore, God has not placed Christians in America to curse her, but to be the light and salt of the nation (Matt 5:13–16). How do we fulfill that by asking Him to damn her?
America Bless God
God blesses America when America blesses God. As it is written, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance” (Psa 33.12)
We cannot expect blessings, if we do not give blessings.
What If God Damned America?
Does anyone think he is suffering now? What would happen if God damned America? We certainly would not have the freedom to make wild accusations against our nation. Jeremiah 29 shows what God wanted the Jews to do who were carried away captive to Babylon. “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace” (Jer 29.7).
God wanted the Jews to pray for the peace of the city to which they had been carried captive, but the reverse of that stands true also. If we seek the war of the city where we live, and pray to the Lord to damn it; then in its war we will have war.
Does Mr. Wright really want that? When a nation does well, its citizens do well, which was the message of God to the Jews, but that does not mean everyone prospers to the same level. The poor we will always have with us, although not everyone will be poor, yet, if God damns a nation, everyone becomes poor.
What to Do When Persecuted
We cannot deny that black Americans, and many others have suffered persecution. Nations have persecuted Christians worse than anyone, yet, Christians have converted many millions of people, including their former persecutors, not by asking God to damn them, but by following the Lord’s example and by doing what He taught and by doing what His apostles taught. The One who suffered the most at anyone’s hands, prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23.34).
In Matthew 5, that same One had taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt 5.43–48).
Jesus practiced what He preached. If He could love His enemies, even as they persecuted Him, then we can certainly bless those who curse us. Paul wrote, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Rom 12.14).
By following the words of Paul, the Christians in Rome changed the whole empire forever. Speaking to slaves who had become Christians living in the brutal Roman empire, Peter explained how they should view harsh treatment and notice whom Peter holds up as an example in such treatment, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1Pe 2.18–24).
May every believer in God, whether black or white, slave or free, learn to imitate Jesus Christ and obey the commandments of the apostles.