As a believer I’ve become alarmed by what seems to be a widening gulf between the Church corporately and the Word as expressed in her political preferences. What could possibly entice the Bride of Christ to walk so far from His heart? How is it possible that we, the Church, have more in common with the goats of Mathew 25 than with the sheep?
To be fair there are still congregations that seek to attend to the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned but these are rare gems and not the way of most churches. Attempts to have efforts of the government to help with the caring are met with loud, righteous, indignant claims that this is the role of the church and not government.
Fine. We have no argument except when you then tell me that this is a Christian nation. If the US is indeed a Christian nation then we should compel her to fulfill the desires of the heart of Christ. Instead we cling to social and political arguments while ignoring the words of Jesus.
And if we have a government of the people for the people, what’s wrong with it caring for the people? Sorry, I digress.
I began to wonder how the Church could walk so far from the shadow of the cross. Where did this disconnect originate? Have we replaced God with another? Or maybe rather than replacing Him, have we given Him an equal?
Are we worshiping more than Him alone?
I suspected the answer would be found in the likelihood that we had created at least one more god. My suspicions landed quickly on money. I believe it true that many have traded manna for mammon but this seemed too easy a target. Besides, many, indeed most folks, will never experience the elaborate lives our televangelists do. Many of us struggle daily with making basic ends meet.
Maybe the trade of manna for mammon was symptomatic of another god’s prevalence. A god freely accessible to all of us. One few would suspect of supplanting Christ our Lord.
With all of the frenzied and impassioned arguments over a right behavior when the US flag was marched onto a playing field and the National Anthem played, I began to suspect that the United States, her symbol (image) and song, had become our new triune god.
Is there a difference between Nebuchadnezzar’s demand that everyone fall down and worship his god when they hear music any different from the expectation that all must rise, take off their hats, and place their hands over their heart during the playing of the National anthem?
Is there an equivalency to be found in the experience of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and football players refusing to stand?
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” 
In the passage from Daniel the word “worship” concerned me. Did this mean that while in a fallen down state the people were required to do something else? Did they have to utter certain words or phrases? Nothing in the Hebrew definition or common use of the word translated worship indicates this.
The paying of homage seems to be key. So what does that mean? Dictionary.com defines homage as respect or reverence paid or rendered. Here it seems that no other action seems required. The “falling down” is the act of worship, the paying of homage.
It is easy to argue that football players kneeling during the National anthem are being thrown into a metaphorical furnace. Even the President of the United States has suggested that their livelihood should be stripped from them for refusing to pay the homage prescribed when the music being played.
Daniel’s encounter with King Darius is a bit of a flipped coin. In this case we see Daniel instructed not to pray to anyone or anything except the King for the next 30 days. Daniel went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
Daniel, I assume, did not pray to Darius but continues his relationship with God, the true God. He remains committed to God thanking Him only and making petitions of Him only.
Using the NFL as a possible theater where one god is traded for another let’s look at the reality of the schedule. No person attending a noon or 1 P.M. game is going to church. There simply isn’t time. If your drive to the parking area is over an hour the opportunity for attending both Church and a game fades with every mile you have to drive. Watching it on TV is doable to be sure but for those going to the game there is only time for homage to be paid to that other god, our King Darius, the United States as represented by her song and symbol.
A shift in allegiance from one god to another is best measured in whose decrees you find have the most merit. In the Christian community within the US we seem to have elevated our laws above God’s laws. Nowhere is this clearer than with our treatment of the foreigner or the elevation of the US flag to a place of honor greater than that of God’s.
God’s heart for all of mankind is revealed in his instructions to us on how we should behave toward the foreigner
“ ‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. 
In Malachi 3 God provides a clear warning about those he will testify against. “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. 
In Exodus 23 we read “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. 
And just in case you’re inclined to say that laws applying to citizens don’t apply to foreigners let’s see what God had to say about that in Deuteronomy “And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. 17 Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike.”
Arguing “they broke the law”, we ignore God’s clear instructions walking away from His heart with economic arguments, social arguments, political arguments and legal arguments. Anything to justify our individual and national sin.
We ignore our own place alongside Abel, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah and all of the other ancients in the faith by forgetting or ignoring the fact that we too are strangers, foreigners. The writer of Hebrews said : All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 
Our spiritual heritage is that of a stranger. One of my favorite ole time hymns, I’ll Fly Away, contains the lyric “this world is not my home I’m just a passing through”.
The treatment of foreigners is but one more example of why I believe we have traded YHWY for USA. Another is our vilification of those seeking justice by not standing for our god when her music is played. David wrote in Psalms For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice;
Finally let me point you to the flag. Our flag is as representative of the United States as the cross is to our sacrificed Lord.
In the US our flag is supposed to be flown to the right of the speaker. Why?
Because this is the place of honor.
When you’ve been to a Church that displays the US flag on the platform how many times have you seen the US flag placed in the place of honor while the Christian flag was relegated to the place of lesser import, the speakers left.
Every time. Every single time.
Worse yet is this nauseating reality. A popular motif in Christianity is that of three crosses. Typically the center one, the place where our Lord yielded His life for us, is taller than the other two.
Similarly, when a church displays three flag poles one is typically the state flag, another the US flag and finally the Christian flag. The order of honor is center, right and then left. In the center, higher than the others, flies the US flag. Then to the right of that comes the state flag and finally, last in order of honor comes the Christian flag bearing the cross.
Elevated to a position of honor above that afforded the Kingdom of Heaven is the flag of the United States and one of her member states.
Lastly, in case you still doubt the merits of my concern, consider the ichthys. In early Christian churches the Greek word for fish (ichthus) came to be interpreted as a cipher for Jesus. Translated to English, IXOYE, the first letter of each of the Greek words for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior” spell ichthus. We do not know when this cipher was first used; but once the identification was made, the fish became a standard Christian symbol.
We know that during times of persecution Christians could identify themselves to others as believers by drawing the ichthus in the dirt, sand or mud.
The ichthus has been joined recently with the US flag in a repulsive display that seems to indicate the Lord Jesus’ approval of our nation’s behavior.
We, Christians, have allowed a kingdom of earth to be elevated above the Kingdom of Heaven and we call it patriotism. It seems that we, the corporate representation of the people of the United States, have become our own god, walking after our own interests, and leaning on our own understanding.
It is easy to forsake the heart of Christ when you worship another.
In his book Six Months in the White House with Abraham Lincoln, Francis B. Carpenter wrote that when questioned about whether God was on our side (the North’s) President Lincoln replied “I am not at all concerned about that for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.”
Given the distance between our national policy regarding foreigners and the heart of Christ coupled with the elevation of our national symbol above that of God’s, it is clear to me that today we do not share Lincoln’s concern. We are convinced of our own rightness and are certain that God approves.
My shame is so great it sickens me.
 The New International Version. (2011). (Da 3:4–6). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 The New International Version. (2011). (Da 6:10). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Aramaic (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 The New International Version. (2011). (Le 19:33–34). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 The New International Version. (2011). (Mal 3:5). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 The New International Version. (2011). (Ex 23:9). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 The New International Version. (2011). (Dt 1:16–17). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 The New International Version. (2011). (Heb 11:13). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Hardin, G. (2003). Fish, Fishing. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 578–579). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.