Patriotism and the Gospel

godpatriotism_origDid the title get your attention? I hope that it did. I have recently seen a lot of information coming from pastors, good God-fearing men, who claim that the idea of patriotism is not Biblical. Do you agree with that statement? I sure don’t because I see the exact opposite taught in the Scriptures.

According to Webster’s dictionary, patriotism is defined as, “love or devotion to one’s country“. In order to explain my position in this article, let me give you a little back story about me. I was born in Mississippi, spent my childhood years in the 80s and early 90s, and lived out my teenage years in mid 90s until 2000. I was your typical American kid. My parents were not interested in politics. Both of their families were democrats for generations. I really did not care anything about politics. I was born again at 18 and then I was discipled by two people who were from Eastern Europe. One is my wife. She began to teach the Bible to me. She introduced me to her mentor and he became my mentor. We moved to her country after college. The country of Moldova has a history of being one of the poorest countries in Europe. Human trafficking is widespread. People cannot wait to escape the country to anywhere but there. My mentor began to teach people about the importance of being patriotic and loving the country to which you were born. He showed people the Commandment about honoring your father and your mother and explained that we do not choose our parents but, we are obligated to love and honor them. We also do not choose our nation of birth but, we are obligated to love and honor our nation by loving and serving the people of our nation. Yes, we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven yet, we are to show respect to our nation of birth. God is my heavenly Father yet, I am still to show respect to my earthly parents. I began to think about America from that perspective. Then, my mentor would speak so positively about the USA, about how the USA sends out so many missionaries around the world and supports so many ministries that take the Gospel to the world. He mentioned how grateful he was to America and Americans because of our loving hearts for the world (including his country). He dreamed of having the freedoms that Americans have to be able to serve the world with the Gospel. That made me examine what I had taken for granted my entire life. Living in a country where people do not have the freedoms that Americans have also opened my eyes to what it means to be free and appreciate all the sacrifices that people have made and make so that we can enjoy freedom. I spent 13 years investing in the people of Moldova because they became my people when I married my wife. I became of patriot of Moldova. I have spent the last 7 years investing in the lives of my fellow Americans. My wife has done the same because my people became her people when we got married. She learned English to be able to serve my people. I learned Romanian to be able to serve her people.

I. Jesus was a patriot

We see evidence of this in the Scriptures.

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.
11 He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.
12 Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— (John 1)

Did you notice the above reference? Jesus came to His own people. He served and focused on His own people. He intended for the Gospel to go to the ends of the earth but, He begins with His own people, the Jews. When Commissioning His disciples, Jesus lays out a plan for their mission in Acts 1:8

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

They were to begin with their own people, their own nation, and then spread out from there. Patriotism does not contradict the Great Commission. Patriotism and the Great Commission actually complement each other.

Jesus was a patriot because borders and culture matter to God. In the Bible, we see that God establishes borders for countries. He was general when explaining the borders of the Promised land to Abraham but later gives more detail the the exact boundaries.

14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward ; 15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever . 16 “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17 “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth ; for I will give it to you.” (Genesis 13)

If we just limited ourselves to this passage then we would not know the exact boundaries. How far could Abraham see in every direction? We do not know. God does not leave us hanging though. That is why we let Scripture interpret Scripture so that we can see just how specific God is in what He says. In Exodus, we receive some very specific boundaries for the borders of Israel.

31 “I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you. (Exodus 23)

Ezekiel also gives us a pretty detailed description of the land, specifically the borders for the nation of Israel.

15 “This shall be the boundary of the land : on the north side, from the Great Sea by the way of Hethlon, to the entrance of Zedad ; 16 Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath ; Hazer-hatticon, which is by the border of Hauran. 17 “The boundary shall extend from the sea to Hazar-enan at the border of Damascus, and on the north toward the north is the border of Hamath. This is the north side. 18 “The east side, from between Hauran, Damascus, Gilead and the land of Israel, shall be the Jordan ; from the north border to the eastern sea you shall measure. This is the east side. 19 “The south side toward the south shall extend from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribath-kadesh , to the brook of Egypt and to the Great Sea. This is the south side toward the south. 20 “The west side shall be the Great Sea, from the south border to a point opposite Lebo-hamath. This is the west side. (Ezekiel 47)

So, what does this have to do with those of us who live in the modern world? Are we not now under the New Covenant? Do borders still matter to God? Yes they do, at least that is what Saint Paul teaches us, a man who was taught directly by God.

24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands ; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things ; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; (Acts 17)

You and I were born exactly where God wanted us to be born. The reason that we were born there is so that we would seek God and find Him. Every nation on earth needs patriots who will love their own people enough to live out their faith in Christ and share that faith with their neighbors.

II. Jesus did ministry with His neighbor

Jesus has a clear teaching on ministering to your neighbor. When Jesus taught the people to love God and love others, He taught that the love that we extend to others needs to start with our NEIGHBOR and extend to the world.

28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’
31 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12)

There is a practical example of this in the ministry of Jesus. The story is found in Mark 7 and Matthew 15. It’s the same story in each chapter but, their are details in each that help paint a clear picture for the audience.

26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”
30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mark 7)

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matthew 15)

Jesus brings the Gospel to the world but, He focused on the people of His nation first. Some have accused patriots of being anti immigrant. This simply is not true. God taught His people, the Jews, how to treat immigrants coming to the land of Israel. The Hebrews were to welcome the immigrant into their land, with some stipulations. The immigrants were to adopt the ways of the people of Israel, specifically when it came to their religion and worship of the One, True God. Patriots are to welcome immigrants, teaching them to know the God of the Bible and have a real relationship with Him.

Many times, those who do not agree with patriotism are quick to point out that we are to love people of others nations while, they seem to forget about the person closest to them, their neighbor. We are to love and serve people of other nations but, why not start with the closest person to you, your neighbor? That is what Jesus did.

III. Patriotism is a manifestation of gratitude to God

The nation in which we live and the people around us are a blessing from the Lord. Why would we not love our nation and our people?

“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He divided mankind, He fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. (Deuteronomy 32:8)

Our nation is an inheritance from the Lord and patriotism is walking in that inheritance. This reminds me of a story in the Bible that Jesus relates to us about the importance of being grateful to God.

11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee.
12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him;
13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed.
15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice,
16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine -where are they?
18 “Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?”
19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17)

There were 10 lepers who were together in the leper colony. Jesus chose to pass by them and they cried out to Him to heal them. He took time to listen to them and He sent them to go to the priest. The priest was the one who could declare them healed. While on their way, they realized that they had all been healed. One of the former lepers turned back and bowed at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. He was the only 1 of the 10 who was grateful. The others were probably in a hurry to see the priest so that he could send them home to their families. They were probably noble in their intentions yet they were still ungrateful. Are you grateful to God for your nation and the people of your nation? Are you manifesting the love of God to your closest neighbor? Do you even know your neighbors? Let’s all resolve to be patriots and win our neighbors for Christ as we seek to impact the world with the message of the Gospel!

One comment on “Patriotism and the Gospel

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