You Mean Jesus Isn’t an American or a Brit?

That’s the title of a chapter in my book about the great missionary evangelist E. Stanley Jones. As Jones began his ministry in India in the 1920’s, one of the first challenges he faced was the identification of Jesus Christ and the Gospel with the British Empire and the American culture. If Christ was to be “naturalized” (his word) in India, he had to be seen as the universal Christ rather than as a representative of the West. Jones’ first book, The Christ of the Indian Road, hit like a bombshell as it tried to see the Gospel through Indian eyes.

Jones didn’t use the word Christian Nationalism, but that’s exactly what he was facing. Today it is the melding of a narrow view of Christianity with a jingoistic understanding of what it means to be American, wrapping the cross in the American flag. It often ties Jesus to the coattails of Donald Trump, as represented by Michael Flynn’s ReAwaken America roadshow. ( See https://religionnews.com/2022/10/31/evangelicals-and-trump-reawaken-america-shows-us-who-changed-who/ )

In the Roman Empire, Caesar was worshiped and the mandatory pledge of allegiance was “Caesar is Lord.” When the early Christians professed “Jesus is Lord”, they were directly challenging allegiance to Caesar by proclaiming their first allegiance was to Jesus Christ, not Caesar. They went to their deaths, not because they were religious, but because they were considered unpatriotic.

I am an American and I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes those two commitments are in concert, sometimes they are in conflict, but they are never the same. If we believe that “…God has highly exhalted him and given him a name which is above every name, that the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10), then no national or political allegiance can equate to our loyalty to him.

No, Jesus is not an American or a Brit.

He is the Christ who comes to save the whole world. He is the Christ who can speak to every culture and every nation, every language and every land. He is The Christ of the Indian Road, The Christ of the American Road and The Christ of Every Road–which happen to be the titles of three of E. Stanley Jones’ books.

Jesus is the Lord of all. Alleluia. Amen.

+++++++++++

NOTE: My book Thirty Days with E. Stanley Jones and the three Jones’ books are available from Amazon. For more information visit my website www.johneharnish.com and www.estanleyjonesfoundation.com. If you would like a copy of my book to give as a Christmas gift, I would be happy to sign a copy for the recipient and mail it to you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s