by John Ellis
Like many Christians living in America, if not most, the churches that I attended as a child had patriotic services every July 4th weekend. Not limited to patriotic holidays, though, God and country was one of the overriding motifs of my religious training throughout my entire youth. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that in those churches patriotism and holiness were considered loose synonyms. You couldn’t be a good Christian if you also weren’t a good American as defined by a certain ideological subset. Sadly, I’m afraid, the gospel witness of those churches was hijacked by a form of secular worship – the worship of an earthly kingdom.
There is much to be thankful for if you are born and live in the United States of America. Furthermore, as Christians, we should pray continually for our country and our nation’s leaders; we should pray that God will continue to extend His hand of grace and restrain the sinful impulses of unregenerate men. We should thank God that we are able to worship and serve Him mostly unabated, and we should pray for God’s continued protection. However, it is inappropriate, at best, to turn the worship service on the Lord’s Day into a glorification of humans and human achievements, no matter how thankful we are for those humans and their achievements.
As followers of King Jesus, our entire life should be orientated towards serving our King and, by God’s grace, furthering His kingdom. This does not preclude expressions of thankfulness for the earthly kingdom in which our King has called us to serve Him. It doesn’t even preclude expressions of thankfulness that are defined as patriotic. However, it does preclude turning the worship service ordained by our Creator God for His praise and glory into a worship service of an earthly kingdom and system. The Lord’s Day, of all days, is to be kept holy; the gathering of God’s people on God’s day is for Him. That should be the end of the discussion.
Sadly, though, for many Christians living in America, that statement generates anger and confusion. Many of those who claim to be my brother or sister in Christ will accuse me of being unpatriotic. The saddest part of that accusation is that for many of them, being unpatriotic also means being a bad Christian.
While not desiring to generate controversy or prompt angry denunciations and accusations, this is an important topic. Considering that today is July 4th, it’s a most appropriate discussion for Christians listen to and to consider. Men and women more gifted than I am have written on this topic, and since it is such a controversial topic, I submit an article written several years ago by Michael Lawrence.
Below is a link to a IX Marks’ article written about this topic by a man who pastored in the shadows of the US Capitol Building. Please take the time to read and consider the words of Michael Lawrence.