This Monday, the U.S. celebrates its 240th birthday. We’ll celebrate with barbecued favorites, outdoor games (sack races anyone?), and of course fireworks. And while I enjoy a good picnic and fireworks as much as anyone, I just can’t seem drum up any enthusiasm for Independence Day this year.
Maybe it’s the election. I will vote for a major candidate, but I’m going to hold my nose while I do so. Maybe it’s the overwhelmingly negative reports on my news feeds—unending terrorist attacks, a distressing decision by the Supreme Court, injustice, corruption at so many levels. Taking a serious look at our country, it’s hard to feel very patriotic.
Thankfully, God never asked us to be a patriot.
Let me clarify. The Bible does talk about nations, and how we are to live in them. In fact, we’re to be model citizens. Consider Romans 13:
- We are to be “subject to the governing authorities.” (v. 1)
- We are to “do right.” (v. 3)
- We are to pay taxes. (v. 6)
In addition, Paul instructs us to pray “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) And as is often pointed out, Paul didn’t live in a country with moral, ethical, godly leaders. In fact, they persecuted Christians.
It’s easy for me to make a list of complaints. It’s harder to stop complaining and start praying. Yet our country needs prayer now more than ever! And while we’re praying, we need to be thankful and show God some gratitude for the nation we live in.
The problem comes when we equate the United States with the Kingdom of God. Yes, we live here now, but we are citizens of a totally different place. There’s an excellent article by Jon Bloom on the desiringGod website. In “The Home of the Brave,” Bloom explains why we’ll never really be at home here on earth, no matter which country we happen to live in. Instead of stealing his thoughts, I ask you to click on over to read it now.
I felt much better after reading Bloom’s post. Rather than focusing on the upcoming holiday, I am free to turn my attention to furthering God’s kingdom. Instead of getting agitated about the downward trend of the U.S., I can rejoice that Jesus is building His church, “and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18) That’s something I can celebrate!