The difference between patriotism and the Christian faith

patriot patriotism
Unsplash/Kerwin Elias

There are certainly times when our religious faith and our patriotism go hand in hand. At other times, our religious faith might make us seem unpatriotic. But at all times, it is important that we distinguish between our faith and our patriotism. Blurring the lines can be dangerous.

Before I focus on the subject of this article, let me give you a few different but related examples.

Let’s say you’re a Christian and a policeman. If you give a driver a speeding ticket, you do it as a policeman who happens to be a Christian, quoting the law to the driver, not the Bible. If you share the Gospel with the driver, you do so as a Christian who happens to be a policeman, quoting the Bible to the driver, not the law.

Any police officer can issue a ticket. Only a Christian would share the Gospel.

Let’s say you are a Christian and a soldier fighting terrorists in Syria. If you kill an enemy combatant, you do so as a soldier who happens to be a Christian. If you pray for the family of the enemy, you do so as a Christian who happens to be a soldier.

Any soldier can kill the enemy. It takes a Christian to pray for the family of the enemy.

If you are a Christian and a veteran reciting the pledge with pride, you do so as a veteran who happens to be a Christian. If you are looking for a new spiritual revival in America, you are doing it as a Christian who happens to be a veteran.

Many veterans can recite the pledge with pride. It takes a Christian to pursue a new spiritual awakening.

Yet in each of these three cases there is a great deal of overlap. The Christian policeman wants to be a good witness on the job, and as a Christian he is committed to serving with integrity.

As for the Christian soldier, he prays to be protected and to succeed in his mission of eliminating the wicked.

As for the Christian veteran, in his mind, love of God and love of country go hand in hand. Plus, as far as he’s concerned, his beloved America is special because of his Christian roots.

You don’t take off the Christian hat when you put on the policeman’s (or soldier’s or veteran’s) hat. In fact, if you have to take off your Christian hat while doing your job (meaning you can’t live by your Christian principles while doing your job), you should find another job.

Now, let’s say you’re a Christian and a gun owner living in America and the government wants to take away your legally owned guns. You will oppose government actions as an American who happens to be a Christian.

But will you make a distinction between your faith and the Second Amendment? Are you going to compartmentalize the two? I seriously doubt it. Chances are, that thought won’t even cross your mind. In fact, you would probably call other Christian friends to urge them to pray and strategize with you.

You would say to yourselves as Christians: “We must prevent this kind of dangerous excess of government, not only for us but for the good of generations to come. It is a matter of prayer and action.

And so you would pray, “Heavenly Father, we ask you to help us fight against these ungodly forces. This tyrannical takeover must be stopped. In the name of Jesus, amen!

After all, isn’t that what our founding fathers did in America? Wasn’t the revolutionary war fueled by preaching from our pulpits? Didn’t the ministers help fan the fires of the revolution? And didn’t Benjamin Franklin say that “rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God”?

The answer to these questions is yes, indicating how easily we can merge our faith with our patriotism.

And one can easily argue that at certain points in history, it is right and appropriate to merge the two.

It can also be argued that now is one of those times, when the radical left, embodied in the current administration, has launched an all-out assault on our most basic freedoms.

But this is where you have to be careful.

On the one hand, many good Christians unite to push back politically, just as those with other ideologies push politically for their agendas.

We have every right to do so as Americans, but it is our faith that fuels our beliefs and informs our vote. This is why we pray for our chosen ones, and this is why we pray for God to turn the tide in our nation.

There is no separation here between our faith and our patriotism, between our loyalty to God and our loyalty to America. Let us impact our nation for good.

On the other hand, loyalty to Jesus is still distinct from loyalty to America (and on an entirely different level), and Second Amendment rights (to give an example) are not at the level of Scripture. .

Therefore, as followers of Jesus, we are called to die rather than deny Jesus. As believers, we are not called to die rather than lay down our arms.

There will also be different perspectives during a war, due to which British Christians fought against American Christians in the Revolutionary War and Northern Christians fought against Southern Christians in the Civil War.

Does that mean they were killing each other in the name of Jesus, or does that mean that national issues can sometimes divide true Christians? The answer is obviously the latter.

Patriotism and discipleship obviously do not always go hand in hand.

The reality is that America is a fallen nation, like every other nation on the planet, and as such is part of what the Bible calls “the world.” The political system is also part of this fallen world, with even our favorite party mixed in with corruption and compromise.

As for the political leaders, however heroic and strong they are, they all have feet of clay (to use a biblical idiom) and all are mere mortals, here today and gone tomorrow. The Bible frequently admonishes us not to put our trust and hopes in them.

So, although our faith and our patriotism often overlap, there is a big difference between the two. There is a big difference between our loyalty to Jesus and our loyalty to a party, a cause or a leader, between the kingdom of God and America.

We would do well to keep these peculiarities in mind.

Otherwise, when the lines between Christianity and patriotism blur, the spirit of the world will enter our hearts. And soon, we will be more like the world than the people of God.

Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the national radio show Line of Fire. His latest book is Revival or We Die: A Great Revival Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitteror YouTube.

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