To place another adjective next to the word Christian, as in "American Christian" or "liberal Christian,"etc., is to undermine the very meaning of the word. Implicit in the term "Christian" is the concept of being one without distinction, without division. Although these adjectives and many others may serve as sort of "training wheels for the mind" (a phrase I picked up from Dr. Denis Okholm at APU), as helpful in theological discussions, we should do our best to keep such distinctions far from our mission and worship.
Paul's ecclesiology starts and finishes with one phrase, "for you are all one in Christ." In Galatians 3:28, Paul writes, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." When Paul talks about the church he throws the distinctions out the window.
Jesus himself says in Matthew 23, "But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ." All our differences, all possible identities, are absorbed in Christ. He, not our country nor our philosophy but Christ, is our teacher.
To be a Christian means finding your identity in Christ who transcends all other identities. So when we allow another identity to serve as a descriptor of our faith, we undercut authentic faith in Christ. Christ, in Christian worship, should be the center. All our other endeavors and ambitions should flow from our faith in Christ, not the other way around.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are an American citizen visiting a church in another country--perhaps a Mexican church. What if, at this service, they opened with the Mexican National Anthem? Perhaps next you are invited to stand and honor those who've served in the Mexican military. Perhaps they pass out copies of the Mexican Constitution. Then the sermon, with sporadic and passe mention of Jesus, turns out to be all about why we should love and serve Mexico. In closing, you are invited to "pledge allegiance" to the Mexican flag. How would you feel? Would you leave having truly brought worship to God? Or would you feel somewhat alienated and left out? If it were me, I would feel quite disappointed. I would feel as though national identity had replaced Christian discipleship.
A service like this should be unexpected in a church of Jesus Christ but in the U.S. such services are common, especially around national holidays such as the 4th of July. How does this effect our ecclesiological identity? How does this make our brothers and sisters from other countries feel? Church, indeed the Christian faith, is not for Americans or Mexicans, conservatives or liberals, educated or uneducated, it is for all people for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
When we allow another identity--either national, political, or religious--to come over or alongside our Christian identity, we jeopardize the very meaning or being a Christian. Our worship and our mission must set aside our differences--all other identities--and we must make visible the invisible reality of our unity in Christ.