June 29 2017
I’m proud to be a Canadian. I think Canada is the best country in the world. And in light of Canada’s upcoming birthday, I want to take a moment to reflect on this great country of ours.
Like many Canadians, I tend not to wear my patriotism too overtly (except when I’m watching hockey or talking about the CFL). Unlike many of our friends south of the border, we Canadians tend not to talk about how much we love being Canadian. Our aversion to nationalism is so strong that I wonder how much our click-through rate is going to change this week based on the teaser line.
I wonder why that is. Despite the fact that we live in what is subjectively the best country in the world and objectively (according to various polls and research) one of the best countries in the world, we don’t tend to talk about our country very much at all.
That’s weird because there’s so much to brag about. We have a vast and beautiful country, a great standard of living, amazing people, universal health care, a history full of examples of quiet international heroism (Vimy Ridge, anyone?), and so many other great things. We’re like the girl (or guy) you wanted to date in high school but figured would never go on a date with you because they were out of your league.
Maybe our lack of national pride stems from the fact that we can’t help but see the areas in which we don’t measure up, especially to our neighbours to the south. Take, for example, the CFL (sorry if you’re not a football fan). I think the CFL is a pretty great league, and I tend to prefer the football that’s played up here to the football that’s played in America.
But here’s the thing: while the calibre of the game is arguably better up here, the way the game is presented in the States blows us out of the water. And because it’s hard to look past the presentation of the thing to the thing itself, we think that what we have is inferior.
That’s too bad. Instead of seeing what we have that’s great, we look at what we don’t have and feel like we don’t measure up. And when that’s true, we tend not to build on what we have in order to make it better.
I think that the same phenomenon happens in churches. Take, for example, a small church like Parkland. We have so much going for us and so many reasons to be excited about who we are, but it’s hard not to play the comparison game. We look at other churches in the area and we see the programs and facilities and budgets and we realize that we’re not in the same league as them.
That’s too bad, because when we play the comparison game we focus on the things we don’t have as opposed to building on what we do have.
So here’s what I’ll leave you with today. I’m proud to be a Canadian, and I aim to be someone who wears that patriotism overtly (but with humility, not obnoxiously). I accept that we can’t do the same things as our brother to the south, but that doesn’t mean that we have to live in its shadow or feel inferior about our national identity.
In the same way, I’m proud to be the pastor of Parkland Fellowship Church and I aim to be someone who wears that feeling overtly (but with humility, not obnoxiously). I accept that we can’t do all the things that bigger churches can do, but that doesn’t mean that we have to live in the shadow of those churches or feel inferior about what God is accomplishing through us.
I hope that you’ll join me in celebrating our great country on Saturday. And while some of you are going to be away for the long weekend, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating our great God on Sunday for who he is, what he’s done, and what he’s going to do, not just in the course of human history, but also for who he is, what he’s done, and what he’s going to do through us.
Because if anything is better than being a citizen of Canada, it’s being part of God’s kingdom, living under his rule and reign, and getting a front-row seat to his amazing work.