As those of us in the U.S. prepare for 4th of July festivities, I want to recognize the main things I am grateful for as an American: Unprecedented freedom of religion, broad cultural support–at least in principle–for transcendent human rights, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

At the same time I recognize my country has often fallen tragically–even horrifically–short of its ideals, and in fact was founded on and remains committed to certain concepts, assumptions, and practices that are fundamentally incompatible with my faith.

It is important for me to rember that no matter how influenced the United States has been or will be by Christianity, my country is not my savior, my hope, or my church, and could never be.

I am thankful to be a “resident alien” in the USA. And I pray for grace to be a good citizen and serve my fellow Americans so they will know the goodness of God in Christ.

But my allegiance–and the foundational focus of my energy and attention–can only ever be to Christ alone and his people in every nation.