(All Scripture is taken from the NKJV)
Last week, we discussed whether or not it is a sin for believers to vote, and we concluded that although it is neither a sin to vote, nor is it a sin to not vote, we need to consider why we would want to vote. As true believers we ought to be much more concerned about practicing and living out 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 than we are concerned about practicing and living out our political views and preferences. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 tells us what we ought to be concerned about: “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” True believers have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. True believers have been given the word of reconciliation and the ministry of reconciliation, and we ought to be out begging people to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
Last week’s discussion sparked many discussions about politics, which led to a discussion about patriotism. I understand this is very challenging, but our goal is to live for Christ, and we do that by having our minds transformed by Scripture. Therefore, let us read Scripture as we consider patriotism.
Ephesians 2:19 tells us, “19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Our citizenship is with those who are set apart by God. Our citizenship is tied to our commonality with other believers and is not tied to our geography or our bloodlines. Philippians 3:17-20 says, “17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” There is a difference between enemies of the cross, enemies of Christ, and God’s adopted children. Enemies of the cross focus on earthly things, and God’s people focus on their citizenship in heaven, for which we eagerly await. Where do your focus and loyalty lie? Are you focused on nationality or on heavenly things that ignore nationality?
In 2 Timothy 2:3-4, Paul encourages Timothy to go be a minister of the gospel, and he tells him on what he is to focus: “3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” Soldiers don’t live in the civilian population. They serve in the military and are insulated from civilian life. They are not distracted by civilian issues. They focus on being good soldiers. Just like soldiers in the Army, we are soldiers of Christ, and we ought not to be distracted by the things of this life. Politics and patriotism are certainly, by definition, the affairs of this life. America is temporal. God’s cause has nothing to do with America. Therefore, we ought not to be concerned with things that are temporal, like America. We are soldiers of Christ, advancing His cause. God’s cause is begging people to be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ. For whom are you being a soldier? Where do your affinities lie?
I’m not telling you to ignore our government. In Romans 13:1, Paul wrote to the Church of Rome, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” The Roman government was not a godly government. It was a government that was in the middle of a holocaust and had already killed thousands of Jews and would, thirty-five years later, kill millions of Jews. Yet, all authority is in place by God’s sovereignty, so Paul is telling the Church at Rome that they need to be subject to the Roman authority just as we are subject to the authority under which God has placed us in America.
Finally, John 8:31-32 says this, “31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” God’s people find freedom in God’s Truth, the Truth of the Bible. The problem is that I have been taught from a very young age, as you have been taught, that our freedom is found in the United States of America, and we have believed that we are free because we live in the United States of America. We have believed that our freedom is in our Constitution, in the strength of the military and its ability to defend the Constitution, and in the Bill of Rights. Yet Jesus says that’s not where freedom comes from at all. Jesus says that our freedom is only derived from the Truth. According to the Truth, the old has passed away and the new has come. To hold on to belief in America is to hold on to dual citizenship. Furthermore, we are encouraged to be proud of our American citizenship, but Scripture is clear that God opposes the proud. Please don’t hear that I am anti-America. I’m not at all anti-America, not even a little bit, but neither am I anti-Iraq or anti-Iceland or anti-Russia or anti-China. I believe that God loves America no more than any other nation and that God hates America no more than any other nation.
I realize that this is so radical because we have been raised to think differently, but let Scripture speak to you. Romans 12:2, “2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” There is no Biblical argument for patriotism. As true believers, we will submit to our rulers and authorities. We will pay taxes. We will render the honor and service due. God’s people will be the best citizens, but we will not idolize America. We will not pledge allegiance to a flag that represents things God hates like homosexual marriage and abortion. God’s people are chosen out of this world and are not to be worldly minded. Does your freedom come from being an American or from being a child of the King and knowing the Truth? The Truth is what will make us truly free.