As we have approached the July 4, holiday, I have read many blogs that have expressed a concern over infusing patriotic songs, displays, etc. into Sunday morning services. Perhaps it is putting it a bit mildly to say they “expressed a concern”. Some have described it as “wicked, ” “sickening” and “unholy”. One comment even said that America had no right to celebrate anything because we were born out of a rebellion and were therefore sinful.
I have written in the past about this subject. Those who know me know that I believe we are to worship God and Him alone. They also know that I am very thankful to be an American. I do not believe the two are necessarily exclusive of one another. As my brother often says, “I hope that being a good Christian will cause me to be a better American”.
The fact is, the Bible commands us to be patriotic in a Christian sense. Allegiance to our government is mandated by scripture. (And let me point out that there is obviously a difference between allegiance and worship). The Apostle Paul himself, expressed a strong feeling for his countrymen and their need for the Gospel. Jesus observed traditions that were distinctly Jewish in their origin and nature. I think it is safe to say that PATRIOTISM IS NOT A SIN.
Does patriotism have a place in worship? You bet it does. Now let me clarify that nothing is ever to replace or supercede my love for God. Anything that does is idolatrous. But I am not being idolatrous to express my love of country in juxtaposition with my love of God if I am doing so in a way that gives thanks to God for the blessings of liberty.
Some seem to think that we can compartmentalize our life. They think that is okay to observe patriotic practices as long as it doesn’t mingle with our “worship”. Let me ask you, is our worship to be confined to one hour on Sunday morning? Is the Great Commandment only applicable at certain times or are we to love God all the time? If we are to love God all the time (and of course, we are) then we cannot draw lines between times of “worship” and times of anything else.
Yes, first and foremost, I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God, but a part of that citizenship is acting like a good citizen in my earthly country. By blending patriotism into worship services, I am not driven to idolize America, but I am reminded that I am to influence my country for God. I am reminded that the blessings I enjoy as an American come from God and that a righteous nation will be one that is exalted by God.
With that in mind, what can we do to influence our country for God?