There’s a lot happening in the U.S. this week with the Neil Gorsuch hearing, the historic vote on repealing Obamacare, and the London terrorist attack.
I’ve been thinking for quite some time about Donald Trump’s theme of “America First.” Is it a right focus for a nation to pursue? Or is it selfish, narrow, or even arrogant in its perspective?
Is America First a good idea?
Ive been thinking and praying about America First since Donald Trump began using the phrase. The words were shared again quite powerfully this week at President Trump’s Louisville, Kentucky rally–and people cheered wildly.
My question is, “What does God think about this emphasis and wording? Where is it right and where is it wrong?”
I don’t profess to speak for God on this subject, but here’s my prayerful perspective.
When I first heard the term America First, I didn’t like it for the following reasons:
1. God should always be first in our lives.
We are to “Love God will all of our heart, soul, mind and strength,” the Great Commandment tells us. Tomorrow, in my regular Bible devotions, I will read Deuteronomy 5 where the Ten Commandments are found.
The first command is essentially God First. He alone is worthy of all that we are. Our worship and obedience stands primary. So, in the broadest sense, our love and commitment to America (or any other nation) should never come before our supreme devotion to God. If if comes down to choosing flag or Jesus, that’s a no-brainer.
Jesus wins every time.
In the book of Acts, when the early disciples were forced to choose between the Jewish State (Sanhedrin) or preaching the Good News about Jesus, they said quite plainly “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
God First must be the normal default when faced with a wide range of choices.
2. Self-centeredness, even in nations, can be destructive.
It’s true that God created nation-states, loves the various “tribes” or the earth, and enjoys their unique gifts and cultures. It’s also true that all nations and cultures are not equal–some are more godly and biblical than others. In that regard, America is an exceptional nation due to its faith, revivals, laws and freedoms.
But that does not give license for America to center on its own welfare or put itself above other nations. God wants nations to bless and serve other peoples–not to shrivel away due to self focus.
3. We must pray for and love all people.
The reason God blesses nations is so they can be a blessing to others. The United States has welcomed more immigrants and oppressed people, given more financial resources, fought more wars to end tyranny, and blessed the world with more missionaries and humanitarian assistance than any nation in history.
If America First means praying less or not loving all the peoples of the world, then it is setting our sights too low. It is failing to be “America.” Count me out if America loses its global vision to bless others.
4. We should guard against pride–an easily besetting sin for a powerful nation.
America First could also be construed in a prideful way. Nah-nah-nah-NAH-nah! We’re better than you and will take care of ourselves, thank you!
That’s a bad attitude for a blessed nation. Pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 11:2). I want no part in that interpretation of America First.
5. The Kingdom of God is the only “nation” that will last.
Though I believe we should love and appreciate our nations or tribes, we need to remember we are citizens of the Kingdom of God which is the only “nation” that will last forever.
Long after Babylon, Egypt, Germany, Canada, Liechtenstein (!) and China are gone, the Kingdom of God will reign as the only enduring “heavenly nation-state.” All other flags will be vanquished and all other loyalties will cease. Believers in God and His Christ are citizens of one ultimate nation.
Don’t forget your eternal address.
Now let’s look at the possible positive aspects of America First. I don’t believe it’s completely wrong if looked at in context and emphasis.
1. It’s an important reversal of godless secularism (Globalization).
Donald Trump blew a prophetic trumpet that globalization was a nefarious trend leading o tyranny–quite possibly even a one world government. For decades, the elites of the world. fueled by European socialism and global trade, pointed us toward world governance.
That’s the goal of the United Nations. America not only pays half of the U.N.’s budget, but under the Obama administration, became the main cheerleader for globalism worldwide. Trump exposed this loss of American liberty and convinced enough people to put local sovereignty before global alliance.
In that sense, putting your country first is good. It slowed down the march of an evil world partnership.
2. Politicians have neglected working people (Economics).
One of Donald Trump’s insights was the realization that the political establishment in Washington, D.C. had stopped working for the common person. Through deficit spending, over-regulation, and global trade deals, the middle class was shrinking and the little guy sinking.
Trump won because he made it about the “Forgotten Man and Woman.” He was right. In that sense, the American people needed to reject the nanny state and global behemoth. When he committed to put them first (they are America), millions of people voted him to victory.
That included a promise to rebuild crumbling American infrastructure before re-building war-torn nations. Doesn’t a government have an obligation to build its own roads first before spending trillions of dollars overseas?
3. The first responsibility of government to protect its citizens (National Security).
Trump’s rise started with a strong stand on national borders and defeating Islamic jihad. “Build the Wall” resonated with the American people who not only watched illegal immigrants steal their jobs, but impacted their lives through spiraling crime.
The primary responsibility of government is to protect its people. Trump won the election because he sympathized with the security concerns of average Americans–not with terrorists and illegal immigrants. He rightly preached that the job of the American government was to put citizens ahead of foreigners.
4. The American heartland may be poised to bring renewal to America (Revival).
The 2016 election proved that secular-progressivism guides the west coast and northeast of the United States. In between lies the American heartland of Judeo-Christian values and a freedom loving people. Study the unprecedented thousands of folks at Trump rallies and you realize he struck a cord for the need of renewal in the American nation.
Revival usually begins at home-base and then goes to others. Think of the Early Church awakening in Jerusalem that spread to Judea, Samaria and around the world. America First called U.S. citizens to renew their own foundations–including religious liberty–before preaching to the world.
That’s a good definition of revival: God’s finger pointed at me.
Finally and maybe most importantly:
5. When the choice is family or others, family comes first (Family Tribe).
God designed our world through the creation of nations of people. He loves them deeply and respects their differences. Nation-states are really just large families of people who share common values, customs, and beliefs.
Here’s a certain truth about family: “If you don’t take care of your family you’re worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).
I believe this is the most important meaning behind the America First slogan. Donald Trump tapped into the heart desire of many Americans that foreigners were being considered before them. That was wrong. Family comes first–not exclusively–just in order of priority.
Think of it this way. When there’s a natural disaster in a neighborhood, we naturally take care of family first–then assist others. That’s the natural flow of love, money, time and sacrifice. We can’t meet all needs–but we should begin with those in our immediate kin and go out from there.
That’s the design of God.
In the 2016 election, Trump saw the deep concerns of millions of American people who believed their government didn’t care for them anymore. They were “family” but the politicians weren’t concerned for their health, jobs, security, etc. They cared more for others including illegals, drug dealers, sexual deviants, terrorists and globalists.
Donald Trump saw the “American Family” and said no more. Family comes first. America First.
He has a point.
In summary, when all realms are on the table, our order of priorities in love and relationships comes down to: 1. God 2. Family. 3. Friends. 4. Nation. 5. Others (including other nations). If you practice those commitments, you will do well.
But when we’re looking at only the latter part of the list (which is the role of government), then our country becomes first priority–not selfishly, just practically.
Those are my thoughts about America First.
How about you?