My spirit has been grieved as I witness the controversy and constant media attention given to the ongoing conflict between the President and the NFL, and some of the off the cuff comments by a pastor “these players ought to be thanking God that they live in a country where they’re not only free to earn millions of dollars every year, but they’re also free from the worry of being shot in the head for taking a knee like they would be in North Korea.”
So I searched for understanding of how being a Christian relates to patriotism for our country. I sensed a tug of war in my heart because I have a burden and special affection for those in the household of faith, as well as, for all ethnicities, and the future of our nation. With so many pressing issues (e.g., devastation in Puerto Rico, health care and tax reform, North Korea, etc.) on the table what should take precedence and is this just a distraction?
Can we find some middle-ground between these differing views? Merriam-Webster defines ‘middle ground’ as “a standpoint or area midway between extreme or opposing positions, options, or objectives.”
Despite the fact that both of these positions merit consideration, in all fairness, I wanted to understand Christianity vs. patriotism. As an American, born and raised during racial segregation in the 60’s, I believe that respecting our country’s principles is important, yet my concern as a Christian after seeing so many questionable comments posted on social media is what does the Bible say about patriotism.
As Christians, we are commanded in Scriptures to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40).
Name calling never honors God and forcing others to do something, will never change anything. What makes this country great is that we do have “freedom of speech.” The First Amendment of the United States Constitution declares, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a … Freedom of Speech means that someone’s right to say something is protected within certain limits.
The Bible does not answer every question we may have about the Christian faith and patriotism, yet the Scriptures are clear that we are to honor those in authority in our country (Romans 13). This has less to do with politics as with the general principle that Christians are to show honor and respect, and pray for those in positions of authority (Romans 13:7.) When we live according to the flesh, this can seem difficult to do when our feelings and emotions are involved, and when we have opposing opinions and beliefs.
The Bible tells us that we are aliens and strangers in this land (James 1:1; 1 Peter. 2:11). We are commanded to honor and support our civil rulers, and we are called to seek the prosperity of the city, state, and nation in which we dwell. But we must always remember that “our citizenship is in heaven.” Our citizenship is not in the nations we live in but the Kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20). We are “pilgrims, sojourners, foreigners and exiles” in this land (1 Peter 2:11). Our true citizenship is in Heaven. We are in the world. We are not supposed to be of the world (John 17:15–19).
We show our thankfulness to God for the opportunity to live in a free and prosperous nation. Yet our allegiance is to Jesus Christ! We do not have to agree with our leaders, but we should never slander or disrespect them. Instead, we should pray that God gives them wisdom, insight, and courage as they guide the nation “for our good” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
Jesus Christ is the “name that is above every name” and “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Our first loyalty is always to God. Sometimes this may result in conflict with the governing authorities, but we should remember that we are representatives of God’s Kingdom on earth. Galatians 6:10 says, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
GOD is LOVE! GOD is our KING, not man. His kingdom is our final allegiance. His Word is our final authority. We should be thankful He has given this land to us freely. Many “fine” people, Black, White, Hispanic, and so forth paid a high price to preserve our land with its freedoms.
We are citizens of heaven before we are earthly patriots. Jesus is the King of Kings; our allegiance should be to him first and foremost. Our love for God is primary!