Patriotism has become passé these days. After all, it’s been 239 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, so naturally, enthusiasm for July 4 celebrations has waned. And in recent years progressive educators have focused on America’s flagrant flaws (slavery, greed, war, etc.) and pretty much ignored our nation’s accomplishments.
No wonder when Rolling Stone magazine polled its readers on the question, “Is there anything that would motivate you to die for your country?” forty percent said no. Most youth are ignorant of America’s unique spiritual heritage and have little concept of what our nation was intended to be. We’ve slipped a long way from the founding father’s willingness to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for freedom to the cavalier spirit that permeates so many in this age.
In recent years some Christian leaders have contributed to the anti- patriotic spirit by preaching that any kind of patriotic expression in a church service is inappropriate. They argue that since we worship God alone, it’s idolatry to pay honor to the nation. And since God loves people of every tongue, tribe, and nation, it’s blasphemous to picture God in heaven waving an American flag.
I think we would do well this fourth of July weekend to study Psalm 33. Verses 12-15 read, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.”
On this July 4th weekend, Christians living in the United States of America would do well to underscore four principles from this passage.
All cultures are not spiritually equal. Some nations honor the Lord and some don’t. God chose to destroy Sodom and spare Nineveh based on each city’s reaction to his authority.
Any nation that honors the Lord is promised his blessing. Since, “The Lord sees all mankind,” he promises to bless every nation that will honor him as their God.
It’s appropriate for the nation God blesses to give thanks. The Bible says every good and perfect gift comes from God. America is not a perfect gift but it is a really good gift. The Christians I know are not so shallow as to imagine God waving an American flag; however, we do know a good gift when we see it. It’s not idolatry to give thanks for the blessings of our nation any more than it’s idolatrous to give God thanks for the blessings of our families on Mother’s Day. We can be unashamedly patriotic and unapologetically Christian at the same time.
No nation in the world has been more blessed than the United States of America. Anyone who has traveled to other continents is aware that we are uniquely blessed with incredible resources, breathtaking scenery, unprecedented freedom, and international influence. We have also been blessed with an outstanding governmental system that has served us well for over 200 years.
Why have we been so blessed? Are we more intelligent? More industrious? More deserving? No. We are blessed because God was honored in the founding of our country and he has kept his promise. The fact that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles is so evident in early documents and inscriptions on historic buildings and monuments that it can’t be denied.
Another principle that’s evident in Psalm 33 is God will remove his hand of blessing from the nation that forsakes him. “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the people.” (Psalm 33:10) Psalm 9:17 states clearly, “The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God”.
Saluting the flag, standing at attention during the national anthem, singing, “God bless America”, and voting faithfully are not the most patriotic things you can do for this country. We help America most by living a Godly life. “For the “Lord loves righteousness and justice”. (Psalm 33:5)
Some who sneer at nationalistic pride do so because they are convinced the only solution to global problems is a one-world government. They belittle patriotism because their hope is in the United Nations more than the United States. But the Bible predicts that any attempt to govern without God is doomed to fail.
“No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” (Psalm 33:16-22)