How Patriotic is Too Patriotic?

Sarah Bowler's picture

This month I’ve been thinking about what patriotism means to many Christian families in our country. When my husband and I moved to Texas 7+ years ago, I experienced more culture shock than anticipated.

Have you seen that bumper sticker that says “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as quickly as I could”? Well…that wasn’t on our car.

Some joke that “everything is bigger in Texas.” It’s surprising how sometimes even little things contribute to that perception. I opened the mailbox one afternoon, and out popped our new car insurance cards. They were 4 times the size of any other I had ever seen thus far in my life!

This also applies to the patriotism of Texans. I’ve always thought I was patriotic, but after seeing a Christmas display of an American Flag covering an entire lawn I begin to wonder.

“I am confused about how this strong Texan pride works with the strong patriotic vibe,” I told a native Texan at my new church.

“Well, it’s simple” he said with an ironic laugh. “We think we’re the best state in the best country in the world.”

Now, it’s not wrong to love your country (or your state). Feeling ties to your roots is natural, but how patriotic is too patriotic for a Christ follower?

A survey done by Lifeway Research in 2016 indicates that 53% of Protestant pastors (across the US and including a wide demographic range) think their “congregation sometimes seem to love America more than God.” Ouch!

Another survey done in 2015 suggests that over half of Americans believe “God has a special relationship with the US.” Some even go so far as to say America’s relationship with God is like His relationship with Israel in the Old Testament; though ironically, most evangelical professors and OT scholars do not teach this.

If this research is even a little bit true, what does this mean for Christians in America? Are we conveying the “clear and simple” gospel message or polluting it with overzealous patriotism?

Think for a moment about Jesus words to a crowd following him: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26­).

These words sound confusing at first, right? In other passages, God tells us to love our neighbor. But the thing is, our love for God is to be so great that it defies the very bounds of our love. Our love for Him is to be so great that the only way to even begin comprehending the difference is to use the analogy of “hating your family.” Are you really to hate them? No, but our love for God is so much more that on a sliding scale of comparisons it almost seems that way.

Perhaps American families need to consider some of Jesus' words from a new angle: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own country, yes, even America, he cannot be My disciple….”

Do I love my country? Yes. Did I celebrate America’s 241 years by viewing fireworks with my children? Absolutely.

Will I love God infinitely more? Always.

Questions for Thought:

  • How would others who don’t know me (or my family) very well view my allegiance to Christ versus my allegiance to my country? What stands out first?
  • Do I talk with my children more about politics or how to grow in their faith?
  • Do my children see me sharing the gospel more or my political beliefs?
  • How often am I praying for my own government and leaders around the world?
  • How am I partnering with my brothers and sisters in the global church to spread the gospel?

(Note: This article originally appeared here on EvanTell's blog.)

Comments

Hey ... I'm a vet and a new believer ... turning to Jesus In my 50s
personally I can tell you that being in other countries increased my love for America
It is easy to take even our freedom to wake up and take a shower for granted
Many countries ration water and it is demanded to be used only on certain days and certain hours
So patriotism should be the norm
my opinion is that in 2017 many people expect this country to just give them the things they need for living, rather than working for those things
our freedoms need to be cherished and by thanking GOD for this country 
GOD established countries and borders and how governments should operate
Texas has a rich history that like America's should not be forgotten 
I would only wonder why this bothers you? It shouldn't 
Some of the largest gatherings of Christian's are in Texas churches full of people who love Jesus and also yes, this country
God bless you AND God bless America 

Sarah Bowler's picture

Hi Christopher! Thank you for your service to our country! I am very thankful to be an American and so grateful for the freedom we experience in our country. My point with this article is not that patriotism is a bad thing; patriotism in it's right form is great. And, I do think that we can love both God and country. The problem I see is when people love country more than God. While I am thankful to be an American, I am far more thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on my behalf allowing me freedom from sin and the eternal blessing of living with him.

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