With no other superpower left to oppose it, the U.S. is looking more than ever like the Roman Empire. And I think that is helpful comparison for Christians living in the West, as early Christians had the same challenge of working out allegiances as we do now. The Roman Empire always assumed that its values and its goals were the right ones. Christians within the empire knew this was not true. They didn't see the Roman Empire as intrinsically good or intrinsically evil. In fact, the Roman Empire proved itself to be capable of both extreme good and extreme evil. But the early Christians never melded their "Roman-ness" with their allegiance to Christ.

That is where it gets confusing for us nowadays. The American Empire often uses the name of our Leader, but doesn't pay much attention to his teachings. The teachings of Christ don't mix well with the goals of nation-building (as the Romans seemed to understand), but co-opting his name seems to be useful for giving people a sense that whatever the nation is up to is right.

What a dangerous thing then when the church starts to look more intently on Jesus.