Perhaps my view is a bit biased. After all, my family includes many veterans who sacrificed much for their county. My uncle, Charles Spurgeon Keller, gave his life in World War II when he stepped on a landmine at age nineteen. My father, Sam Rainer, was likewise a World War II hero with a number of medals, including the Purple Heart.

The bias may be there, but I believe that Christians should be loyal to their country, that patriotism should be the default for those who follow Jesus. I know that God is always first, even over country. And I know that our own nation was founded in the bloody resistance against our home country at the time. Still, there are a number of reasons that Christians should be patriotic. Allow me to share five of those.

The Five Reasons

My list is not exhaustive. But perhaps it can be a beginning point when we begin to think of our lives as both citizens of our country and citizens of the Kingdom of God.

1. God uses the government for His good (Romans 13:4). The government is often God’s instrument for carrying out His purpose. We are to subject ourselves to that government out of obedience and deference to God (see all of Romans 13:1-6).

2. We should have an attitude of gratitude. We are commanded in Scripture to rejoice in all things (Philippians 4:4). We have so much for which to be thankful, and many of our blessings come from living in this great nation. Though America is not perfect, we have more to celebrate than to bemoan.

3. We should understand the issue of sacrifice better than anyone. Christianity is the one true faith. It is the only belief system where God dies for the sins of others. Christ’s death on the cross appeased the wrath of God. It provided forgiveness to a fallen people. The sacrificial death of Christ was bloody, horrendous, and totally self-giving. Though the deaths of mere mortals in no way compare to the death of Christ, we should have a humbling appreciation for those who gave their lives for our country. The men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice should never be forgotten.

4. The heart of our nation is God-centered. Though historical revisionists would like us to believe otherwise, the heartbeat of the founding our nation was God-centered. It is impossible to look at any number of our founding documents and believe otherwise. We are truly “one nation under God.”

5. We are called to be on mission where we are. The missional message we have been given is to make disciples from our backyard to the nations on the other side of the globe (Acts 1:8). We cannot reach out to those we do not first love. America is our home and our mission field. We therefore must love this place and her people.

God Bless America

I wish I had listened more to my dad before he died. His exploits in the Army Air Corps were incredible and heroic. I find myself trying to find out more about him in the years since he died. I should have taken the opportunities to ask more when he was alive.

But my father was but one of thousands who loved his country so much that he was willing to die for her. I cannot forget his sacrifice. I cannot forget the sacrifice of so many.

On this Independence Day I am reminded again how blessed I am to be in a nation like the United States. Though not perfect, this country has given me every opportunity a person could ask.

Happy birthday America. Thank you for being the wonderful land that you are. And more than anything, may you continue to be a land of the one true living God.

God bless America.

You are the land that I love.

 

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Comments

  1. Bryan D. Milligan says

    As a veteran and, first, a Christian, let me thank you for your blog. Your perspective is right on target. And I do appreciate your obvious love for our nation and those who fight for our freedoms. I have seen in many of your writings your respect and admiration for our men and women of the military. As one of those, I salute you sir and thank you.

  2. David Raynor says

    Great post. Good balance and a great perspective for Christians. This was a good wake-up article on the Fourth of July. By the way, I know our names are spelled differently, but I wonder if we have a common heritage in recent generations. My family originally comes from North Carolina.

  3. says

    I think that it is important to distinguish between patriotism and nationalism.
    Nationalism is an attitude of arrogance and aggression. It’s the elevation of state above God, and the national equivalent to “my dad’s better than your dad”. As often as we wrap ourselves up in the flag, we’ll never be as good at nationalism as the Nazis, Stalinists, and Maoists – and this is a good thing. Nationalism is easy – all you have to do is paint your face and treat the rest of the planet with contempt.
    Patriotism is hard. Simply chanting USA! USA! doesn’t cut it. Patriotism is actually getting off the couch and doing something to make your church, school, town, state, and country a better place.
    While nationalism is loud, patriotism speaks through action. Where nationalism is arrogant, patriotism is humble. Where nationalism accomplished nothing, patriotism makes the world a better place. Where nationalism tempts the wrath and judgement of God, patriotism invites His blessing.

  4. Henry Towers says

    John -
    I’m not clear where you thought Dr. Rainer’s post landed, but it seems like he was talking about the way you defined “patriotism” and not “nationalism.”

  5. Eddie Pullen says

    Dr. Rainer,
    Excellent article. I have read much on the subject of America and Christianity in recent years and I have concluded that we (America) was founded upon the principles of Scripture and Jesus Christ.
    What grieves my heart is that it seems a new generation (even young Christians) downplay or even negate the mention of patriotism in our churches. I do not advocate worship of America, but at least honor; or even a mention of sacrifices past.
    I have found that the current generation of Christian leaders may not understand the sacrifices of the previous and therefore do not value our heritage and/or freedom like other generations have. I am not an old man (42 yrs old), yet I can see America’s new church leaders quiet on the issue. I pray for awakening in this area – that new leaders would honor those who helped provide the freedoms which allow them to speak freely in their pulpits each week.

  6. says

    Sorry for the confusion Henry – I thought Thom’s article was right on target and I was in no way disagreeing with it. I was just throwing my two cents in on my own peculiar view on how patriotism should differ from nationalism. I thought that it would be great if people read Thom’s essay and were inspired to be salt and light in their communities evidenced by real action. I apologize if my rant gave the impression that I was being contentious.

  7. says

    Good post.
    Just recently I have been reading biographies of the men who help shape the beginnings of our country. I am overwhelmed at their sacrifice. I am also overwhelmed at the sacrifice that so many have made to protect our rights and privileges.

  8. John says

    Hi Thom,
    Just wondering, should Christians, living in lands that are at enmity with the USA, be patriotic to their countries?
    I ask this question with sincerity of heart.
    John

  9. Thom Rainer says

    John-
    I think patriotism and loyalty to one’s home country, even those at enmity with the U.S., is positive as long as that loyalty is secondary to God and His Word. Some nations preclude loyalty because of the ungodly acts they commit.

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