I’m a Christian and I’m an American.
My identity is in Christ.
But I also love and believe in this country.
(For clarification in this post I’m defining “love” as “fondness for” and “desire to protect,” not “worship” or “belong to” or “idolize.”)
Both my parents served in the United States Armed Forces. Growing up, my sister and I got to live in four different states including the typically-blue state of California and the typically-red state of South Carolina. I’ve been blessed to be able to spend time in major cities on both coasts and in between, like Honolulu, San Francisco, Oklahoma City, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, and New York City. America, with her mix of different cultures, foods, traditions, regional accents and languages, is beautiful.
I’m thankful for America and for both the opportunities we have here and the diversity we have here. I’m grateful for the material and spiritual blessings I’ve been given in this country that I don’t take for granted: access to food, water, shelter, and access to the Gospel.
I wouldn’t call America a Christian nation but I do believe that what the founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” among other principles this country was founded on are Biblical principles, and at the heart of Who God is.
So for these reasons and many others, I love America.
But as a Christian, I know that “the heart is an idol factory” and it’s easy to cling too tightly to the good and lovely things of this world. With everything going on in our nation right now, I’ve been pondering: is it wrong for a Christian to love their country?
On Loving Your Country
I believe loving your country is not the same thing as turning a blind eye to the injustice and evil perpetrated within your country’s borders. Nor does it mean you ascribe to said evil or injustice.
I believe loving your country despite its bloody history, or present, is not naivete. America is surely imperfect. But if we were called to hate the imperfect, we wouldn’t have anything left to love.
I believe loving your country and wanting it to succeed on the world stage is not the same thing as wanting the rest of the world to fail.
I believe loving your country, as a Christian, does not mean you put the country’s agenda above the agenda of the God of the Bible, Who loves without showing partiality (Romans 2:11), but has different plans for all nations of the world.
Have I been extremely disappointed in and angry at my country, as a whole? Yes, and I expect to be again.
But I can be disappointed in the people I love, I can be terribly hurt by them, and I can still love them. It could be argued that America, as an institution and not a person, is not worthy of love from us.
But I also think of it like this: God tells us that the greatest commandment is this: love God, and love your neighbor. Most of my immediate neighbors are American and are here because they also love this country. For today, this is where I’m planted, and, Lord knows I want to bloom.
Our Citizenship as Christians
When the religious people of Jesus’s day wanted to trip him up about earthly things like paying taxes, he acknowledged that we live in a physical world with physical institutions, but he always turned people’s attention back to eternal, spiritual things (Mark 12:14-17, John 18:36).
Where is my spiritual citizenship today? In Heaven. (Philippians 3:20)
Where is my physical citizenship today? In America.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives who live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of this world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.”
1 Corinthians 7:39
The world in its present form is passing away. America will pass away.
But for now, I love America. I have a fondness for my country and how God is using her in the world as a force for good, against evil, and to accomplish His purposes for His eternal Kingdom. God only knows what America’s future holds, and as a follower of Christ in this great nation, until He returns or calls me home, I am along for the ride.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.