Today I want to ask the question: What Does the Bible Say About Patriotism? And then turn to the scriptures to see if we can find the answer. In the recent years, Patriotism has seemed to be rising in a great wave across some lands. So what does the Bible have to say about this? Or does it say anything at all?
We certainly tend to feel patriotic when our country is at war or our nation is threatened. It is understandable to feel a bond with our fellow countrymen during difficult or troubling times. It is even understandable to want to unify with our fellow man to make our country a better place to live.
I have been watching many Christians join with people of all faiths to “make America great again”. I, like you, are watching the waves of “Great Awakening” Tours crisscross this land. We are being told that we will make the world wonderful if we just come together to make certain changes and perform specified social actions. And if we do not want to help, then we are guilty of not loving our country or our fellow man.
For some of you, I’d imagine there is some pressure to join this trend, for many churches have joined this growing movement.
So how should we feel about patriotism? Shouldn’t we love our country? What place should patriotism actually have in a Christian’s life?
While I haven’t (thus far) found anything in scripture declaring it is inherently wrong with loving one’s country or even fighting for it, I do believe it is so important to keep it all in perspective by seeing what scripture has to say about who we are in Christ. (This is not an exhaustive look at this subject. If you have something to add that I have missed, please comment below). But, from my own personal study of this subject, I have come to this conclusion–
We are pilgrims and sojourners. This world is not my home.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, (I Peter 2:11)
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Philippians 3:20)
From these verses, we learn that, as believers, we are to consider ourselves sojourners on this earth. We are just passing through on our journey to get home–our real home which is heaven. Jesus is preparing a place for us that will be glorious beyond anything we can think or imagine–
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:1-4)
But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)
Now, you may be thinking– are these two things mutually exclusive? Can’t I be passionately patriotic while still understanding that this world is not my home? Perhaps.
But what I have noticed is that, oftentimes, patriotism edges out passion for Christ. When we get caught up in the temporal happenings of this world we get distracted from our true purpose and calling as followers of Christ.
Patriotism, at least in this current age, is also being used to unify people in order to make this world a better place. On the surface, this sounds amazing. Who wouldn’t agree with this?
But, again, as we search the scriptures and evaluate the world around us, we know that man will never have their utopia here on earth. Since the beginning of time, this has been the goal. And ungodly men who have no thought for God believe they can attain it. In fact, they think they are so close now that they can almost taste it.
But will the world get better and better?
Scripture tells us, oh so plainly, that it will not.
But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:37)
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, [b]unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
I have only given two of many scripture passages that refer to the “end of the age”, “the last days”, or the second coming of Christ. It is abundantly clear that the world will worsen and worsen until God’s wrath pours down upon it in those horrible tribulation years.
Except for one brief moment. For one fraction of a moment, it will seem that all is peaceful and perfectly unified. (see Revelation 6:1-2)
So is it wrong for me to be patriotic?
No, there is nothing in scripture that would lead us to believe it is wrong to love our country. In fact, we are told to obey our leaders and submit to them (Romans 13:1). But, just as a visitor to another country loves that country and respects its leaders, so we, too, as pilgrims, love and respect the countries that aren’t our true homes.
I think the passage that has had the most influence over me over the past few years is Colossians 3:1-4. I had memorized it for no reason (at least not any reason I knew) except that it seemed like a good core chapter to know. And, while I have a good bit of the whole chapter memorized, it’s those first four verses that have weaved their way through my brain and heart, constantly reminding me that this world is not my home. As I have meditated on these verses I have come to realize that my passion and efforts should be spent mostly on the things that are above and not on things of the earth–such as fixing this temporal world, being popular, making our country “great again”.
Of course, we must give great attention to this life. We must work in order to have money to live, we need to care for our families, and, yes, we are called to be good citizens. But all of this should be done always with an eternal perspective in mind and a heart that is willing to submit to God’s sovereignty and to obey His Word.
As believers, we must first and foremost submit our dreams and desires to God’s will. His will may not be to take any of our nations (I know many of you do not live in America) back to the “good old days” or on to a “brighter and better future”. But, rather, I suspect, it is the coming end of the age, where the nations are now being prepared for that final evil kingdom before Christ returns to reign which is foretold in Revelation.
And, so while we can and should love our countries and do what we can to make them a better place to live, the fervor given to this should pale in comparison to our passion for Christ. Our hearts and minds should be focused on Christ and living for Him rather than on fixing what is wrong in this temporal and dying world. Our efforts, time, energy, and gifts should be used for increasing God’s Kingdom rather than any earthly kingdom. For we are His alone! We belong to God’s Kingdom now and we are just “a-passing through” this old world.
This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through,
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.
This World is Not My Home, first verse (anonymous)