I look forward to fourth of July every year. Independence Day is usually a time with friends, family, food, and fireworks (oh baby, check out that accidental alliteration). It’s a time to relax and enjoy celebrating our country. However, when I moved to the South I noticed more and more that people tend to hold allegiance to their country every bit as close to their hearts as allegiance to their God. This is not to say Northerners don’t have this issue too, but I think patriotism runs deeper in this neck of the woods.
For years now I’ve felt a little uneasy as we discuss the direction America is headed, the corruption in our government, and the blatant sin in our society. We talk about how America has fallen away from her God and allowed things such as abortion to be legal and commonplace. America is a great country with more freedom and opportunities than most of the rest of the world.
Yet, I start to feel uneasy when we get up in church to pledge our allegiance to the flag or sing our national anthem. Before you get your patriotic britches in a wad, let me tell you my concerns.
Patriotic celebration in church is a distraction from worship.
I’m concerned that Christians in America are allowing patriotism to creep in to the one day a week we are supposed to set aside for rest and focused worship on God. Now let me say right now that I understand that we should be a Christian every day and worship every day, but setting aside one day for focused worship and study of God’s Word corporately follows biblical example. I’m concerned that amidst our pledging, singing, and reading about our country, we are misplacing our focus on the Lord’s Day.
Exalting America may be perceived as idolatry.
How often have you heard America spoken about as a nation “set apart by God” or as the “best nation in the world”? I fully agree that God has blessed Americans with freedoms that make our nation distinct. I’m so thankful for those freedoms that men and women fought long and hard to preserve. However, glorifying America in a church service on Sunday morning may be seen by others as idolatry, whether they be non-believers or citizens from other countries. I find it interesting that other nations do not exalt their countries in their Christian churches as Americans do, and this practice could definitely be confusing to believers who may sit in our churches this Sunday morning unable to pledge to our flag or sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”
America is not a perfect nation.
I’m not trying to step on toes here, but have you looked around at our country? We need help. The filthy and insulting speech going on between our presidential candidates, the moral issues in our nation, and the struggles we face with national debt are just a few of the examples of the problems with America. If you judge a nation by its society, I don’t see how you could call America a “Christian nation.” Again, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be proud of our country, but I think we should take a step back before praising this land as if we were God’s chosen people.
Patriotic worship tends to be man-centered.
Patriotic worship tends to put so much emphasis on praising men. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that we should thank and applaud soldiers and other men and women who have dedicated their lives and sometimes given their lives for our freedom. However, I don’t believe a Sunday worship service is the time to draw attention to people. It is a time to draw attention to Christ. Whether or not you believe that the founding fathers were biblical correct to rebel against the crown (too nervous to handle that discussion right now), should we really be singing about them and talking about their greatness on a day dedicated to praising the Lord for HIS greatness?
It’s hard to change. It is hard not to do what we’ve always done, especially for the churches where members of the congregations are veterans and servicemen who took an oath to pledge this country. I’m so thankful that I am an American. I am thankful for every sacrifice that has been made for this country and the freedom of its citizens. I want to celebrate what we have in our heritage, but I don’t want to focus on that on Sunday. Let’s spend our Sundays focusing on the God who deserves our undivided attention and praise.