Wartime Reflections: Loving your country is not a sin BUT…
Some days I wish Russia would invade the United States. It seems that the battlefield is the last bastion of brotherhood where men set aside pretenses, where a tight shot-group supersedes ideological and political congruence.
It’s not a sin to love your country.
And I do. I love the United States of America. I was a patriot from my youngest days.
I will unashamedly declare the United States of America as the greatest country in the world. I’ve actually considered, if I had to relocate, where I would choose to live and I cannot think of another place. If the Lord sends me, I’ll go. Until He does, I’ll remain here in my homeland.
I love the idea of America, the notion of freedom based upon the equality of all men. Concepts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness enthrall me though I struggle with these things being inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. I find no guarantees of liberty or the pursuit of happiness in God’s word. Yet, they appeal to Christian virtue and I cherish them accordingly.
Yes, America has warts. Sin permeates all levels of our society tainting motivations and institutions. Nothing is truly pure; nothing is truly patriotic. Yet, my love for my country does not validate sinful corruption. In fact, I love the messiness of America, the conglomeration of ideas and opinions, freely spoken and freely heard, based upon a shared belief of equal validity—though I acknowledge the assault upon this foundational American aspect.
I love that strong men love her, not afraid to pick up a rifle and defend her. My wife and children sleep safely at night because of the existence of such men. Only a fool would try to deny this truth. I love this brotherhood of men who cherish the idea of America as much as I do, who have bled for her and in laying down their life for their country, were actually laying down their lives for their friends. I’ll unashamedly use the word ‘hero’ regarding such men.
It’s not a sin to love your country but…it is a sin to worship it.
Nowhere does the word of God advocate for any form of governance over another. It does however call the believer to submit to the government and to every human institution. (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2) Pay your taxes and submit. The only authority is from God and those that exist have been “instituted by God” in which case, rebellion constitutes rebellion against God. (Romans 13:1)
Nowhere does the Bible offer caveat as to the type of government or the goodness of the government. No, it says to submit. The only legitimate exception is if the government seeks to compel the believer to violate his Christian conscience. In that case, we must obey God, not men. (Acts 5:29)
Many do cross the line into America worship, draping the cross with a flag, cloaking the Gospel in red, white, and blue while earnestly believing that God has a special consideration for America, that America is some sort of favored nation. This finds root in the sacralistic sin in the hearts of men and we must take care to worship God alone.
In whom do we put our trust, God or men? Though I love this nation, I love it with the understanding that America will one day be a footnote in the salvation history of man.
I love her just the same.
On the other end of the spectrum are those who snub all things American. Know that your baseless derision of our nation and those who love her find no basis in Scripture, but are likewise rooted in the rebellious hearts of men. Pay your taxes and submit.
It’s not a sin to love your country but…it is a sin to hate those who do not.
I’m not even sure these men hate America, these kneeling football players. The protest has become so nebulous, motivations so diluted, that the original intent is obscured. Like so many, my flesh recoils at petulant millionaires disrespecting a nation that has blessed them with so many opportunities, especially a nation I love and for which my brothers have bled.
Yet, I am equally as appalled and shocked at the vitriol directed against them.
By all means, boycott. Demonstrate your freedom of expression by taking your capitalism elsewhere. Turn off the t.v. Go outside and play with your children. Express your lack of support for the movement. But for heaven’s sake, quit with the shameful rhetoric and harsh derision.
Go back to Africa. Love it or leave it. Respect the flag or get out.
What of Christ anyway? Consider the striking contrast from the Sermon on the Mount.
“Love your enemy.” (Matthew 5:44)
“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46)
“I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:22)
Let’s shift gears for a minute. A typical argument with my spouse will go something like this following my transgression:
Me: I don’t see why this is such a big deal.
Her: Well it is.
Me: I don’t understand why you are so upset. (As I begin to get upset that she’s upset)
Her: Why do you have to understand why? Isn’t how I feel what should be important?
Me: (Thoughtful silence while I search for an out)
Her point is that if I love her, why does it matter if she should be upset about a thing or not? If something bothers her, that should be my concern, not whether her feelings are valid. If only someone had taught me this years ago!
There is a problem. Somewhere.
It is apparent there is an issue between the black community and law enforcement. I don’t understand it. I admit. I look to the statistics and believe that the greatest affliction of the black community is the abdication of black fathers. Yet, this is from my vantage.
What I do know is that my countrymen, my fellow Americans, and in many cases, my fellow brothers-in-Christ, have an issue. It’s not just rich football players. Millions of black Americans believe there to be a problem and that alone is enough for me to share their concern.
It’s not just that black men get gunned down in the streets, sometimes legitimately, sometimes not. Most acknowledge that these things, though tragic, will happen. It’s the lack of accountability in regard to some officers who commit these transgressions, or the appearance thereof.
What if the communication between our Commander-in-Chief and ‘them’ had went something like this…
“Men, I know there is an issue. I don’t claim to understand it from your viewpoint but as fellow Americans, I have tremendous respect for your opinion. Therefore I’d like to invite you to the White House to discuss the problem, seek resolution, and move towards addressing the issues confronting our young, black men. #allAmericans”
I want people to stand up and honor the flag during the National Anthem, but I want them to do it from the heart. This aspect of Americana bears the closest resemblance to Christendom. Coerced virtue is not really virtue. Our nation can never require it. This reeks of fascism.
And if some of my fellow countrymen do not share these same feelings, that’s okay. I’ll seek to understand that we may come to a common understanding and pursue a common objective, that our sons and daughters may inherit a better world. To that end, I’d think we could all agree.
I do not agree with these kneeling men. I do not understand their protest, but I and my brothers have fought for their right to do exactly that. This is a critical aspect of the idea of America. Though I disagree with them, Christ calls me to love them just the same.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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