For anyone who knows me well they will affirm the fact that I am not the most patriotic person in the world. If I’m completely honest patriotism is not a part of my personality. I don’t hold my hand over my heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance and I don’t tend to like the phrase “God Bless America”. Now before I turn you off and get labeled as a “pinko-commie” let me say that I love the freedom that I have in the United States and feel fortunate to live in such a place. The core of why I am not overly patriotic is simply due to the fact that I believe that my citizenship and allegiance are to the Kingdom of God not any Kingdom of man. Also, just because I hold to this belief does not mean that I condemn those who are patriotic, it’s simply a difference of opinion and ideology. With that being said, I definitely struggle when July 4th rolls around and we have patriotic elements in our worship services.
Despite my reservations with patriotism mixing with Christianity I do believe that God has a sense of humor and so today I filled the role of Campus Pastor at our Graham Campus as we held our services and had patriotic elements. Now, our services weren’t overly mixed with patriotism. We sang God Bless America and had a short video of quotations from our founding Fathers. Beyond that there wasn’t much to it. I walked away not feeling bothered but with a lot still on my mind.
The thing that I love about the 4th of July and affirm in our worship services around this time of year is the celebration of freedom. It’s an amazing privilege to have the freedom of Religion that we have in the United States and I am thankful for that, it should be recognized. But let’s not stop there, let’s not have our celebration of freedom be in regard to the United States, rather let us celebrate freedom in Christ. Political freedom is one thing but it really is no match for freedom from the bondage of sin and freedom from this world. Perhaps a middle ground for us “pinko-commie Christians” and those “patriotic Christians” is the universal love for freedom that is brought in Christ and we can use the 4th as a recognition of that. In doing this it will not only serve as a reminder of how privileged we are to have our freedoms here in the US but also as a reminder to pray for those and take action for those who are in bondage both locally and abroad. Let the reminder of our freedom motivate us to act for those who are in bondage both spiritually and physically.
I hope that this post isn’t taken as a patriotism bash, or that I am negative towards the United States but rather as a few thoughts from a guy who wants to respect perspectives and find balance so that God is glorified more than anything else. Feel free to disagree and comment but any conversation should be done in love not in anger or frustration.