Knee Jerk Reactions to Patriotism
It seems there seems to be little ground for patriotism among Christians these days. You are either/or patriotic or sinning or you are to be completely opposed to any forms of patriotism. There seems to be little middle ground here. There are those who say that we should be pro-America in all things and then there are those who say that we should be like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and avoid any form of allegiance to any national governments whatsoever. Dr. Wayne Grudem outlines five wrong views regarding politics and government here.
I find myself in the middle.
On the one hand I agree with those who are “anti-patriotic” that some carry this too far. To be a Christian (in some minds) is to be pro-America. You must love the United States in all things and you must support our nation in all things. This simply bothers those who oppose such thinking. To many on this side, they come across as almost anti-America. They show little tolerance for Christians who display patriotism while they go to their blogs and to Twitter to tear down what they see as “American Christianity on display.”
I do think we need to be careful when it comes to patriotism. After all, we are disciples of Christ first. We are not Americans first. We are disciples first. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Our King is Jesus (1 Timothy 6:15-16). Our focus is eternity (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Our passion is the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and not the kingdoms of this world which will crumble under the Lordship of Christ (Daniel 2:44). Our passion should not be to transform our nation through politicians (though I believe we should vote biblically; Proverbs 21:21) but through the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). What will transform any society is the gospel (Titus 3:1-7). This should be the passion for the disciple of Christ (Mark 16:15; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
That said, is it wrong then for disciples of Christ living in the United States to love our nation? I don’t think so. Our love for the US should not override our passion for the gospel but there is nothing wrong with loving where we are from. I praise God that the United States, despite all her problems and sins:
- Is the largest missions giving nation in the history of humanity.
- Is the largest missions sending nation in the history of humanity.
- Is a free nation where I am free to pass out tracts, preach the gospel in the open air, broadcast on both TV and radio the gospel, read and study the Bible without fear, and we can meet at any time and any where for the worship of our King.
- We are free! In my home where I am typing right now sits a bookcase full of Bibles and books. Over 30 Bibles are sitting next to me. Theology texts. History texts. Greek texts. All these are at my fingertips and I don’t fear ever anyone coming into my home to take these from me. I am free.
- Despite all the sins, people here in the US still do more to aid others than any other nation. We send our military and our doctors to help people all over the world. I personally know both soldiers and doctors who have been on mercy trips to many places around the world.
So I am a caution in my love for the United States. I do not approve of all that she does. Our nation needs the gospel. We need the Church to preach the gospel to the lost. No doubt about that. And many of our government leaders need Christ. They are godless men and women in Washington DC who need the gospel. Our passion should be to pray for our leaders to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-6). The sin of abortion plagues our nation. The sin of homosexuality is plaguing our nation. The sins of violence are plaguing our nation. The United States needs the gospel! But praise God that we are free (at least at this point) to preach the gospel without fear. The only fear we have now is the fear of man.
My passion is Jesus first. Your passion (wherever you are) should be Jesus first. But it is okay to love your home. It’s okay to love your people (Romans 10:1). The kingdom should reign over all things but I see nothing in the Bible that suggests that we should not praise God for our freedoms.