Help on Patriotism

I’m working on a message about Jeremiah’s patriotism. I’d love your input on my theses thus far:

  1. Though the events of the bible took place in cultures very different from our own, we can still learn from them how we, as followers of Jesus today, ought to relate to our host cultures and communities.

  2. None of the nations mentioned in the bible match up exactly with any nations in the world today.

  3. The biblical idea of “nation” is more cultural than political in meaning. This means that “nations” are more broadly ways of living than merely ways of ordering power at the top.

  4. God hold nations responsible for their actions. As with individuals, the more blessed a nation, the higher the accountability.

  5. It is sometimes hard to tell the good nations from the bad nations when we evaluate them from what we know of God’s perspective.

  6. Though many nations throughout history have claimed to be God’s special people, very few (if any) have consistently acted like God’s special people. That is, they usually trust in their own abilities and resources before they trust God, and they usually seek their own agenda rather than God’s.

  7. God’s people have tended not to handle power better than any other group of people. Jesus gives us more of an example of how to live in weakness than how to exercise power.

  8. Obeying God can require you to do things that don’t look very patriotic. Jer. 21:1-10; 27:12-15; 38:17-18. Daniel, Israel, Babylon. Persia. Jesus and Rome.

  9. Christians are called to a dual citizenship. Citizenship in the Kingdom of God is our primary allegiance.

  10. There is a real sense in which the nation-state or culture in which the Christian lives is a place of exile.

  11. Even if the place we now live is not our ultimate home, we are to seek its peace and prosperity, not just for our own sake (we live there, after all), but for the sake of the people around us.

  12. Our ultimate well-being is not determined by the success of our nation, culture, economy or military, but by the grace of God.

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5 Responses to Help on Patriotism

  1. Steve says:

    Good stuff! Here are a few thoughts I had as I read your list:
    1. I am suspicious that American Christians in general recognize themselves as living in a “host culture,” but I agree with your use of this terminology. How do you go about convincing others of this perspective?

    4. If nothing else sticks, this makes the post worth it. God expects much of Christian Americans.

    5. Are you serious? It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference? So one nation’s Caesar labeling certain other nations as an “axis of evil” may be misleading?

    9. Fantastic point. Let’s keep working on convincing Christians of this!

    10. Couldn’t agree more. I love Rob Bell’s series on this. Have you heard it?

    11. and 12. do I get to hear this via podcast?

  2. rheyduck says:

    “5. Are you serious? It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference? So one nation’s Caesar labeling certain other nations as an “axis of evil” may be misleading?”

    Some of the US’s biggest blunders have been by simplistically and overly quickly using “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” (and similar) thinking. Also, it may be that a nation or group of nations take a stance as an enemy of the US. That has no necessary consequences for whether they are a friend or an enemy of God. It is also quite possible that the good that God intends for a nation might not be exactly what the US wants for it – or what the US takes to be in its own best interests.

    “10. Couldn’t agree more. I love Rob Bell’s series on this. Have you heard it?”

    Nope. What’s it called?

  3. JAy. says:

    In 1 Peter, there are two sentences which I love. “Fear God. Honor the King.”

    Ties in nicely with you #9 in the list.

    God Bless,
    JAy.

  4. joan says:

    call me a crank, but I’ve about decided that the controversy in the council (Nicea?) in the 4th century was engineered by Constantine to keep the decision-makers from pondering whether the church should be hand in hand with the governmental authorities.Is that called a straw man?

  5. Kim says:

    “None of the nations mentioned in the bible match up exactly with any nations in the world today.”

    “The biblical idea of “nation” is more cultural than political in meaning. This means that “nations” are more broadly ways of living than merely ways of ordering power at the top.”

    In order to round out this discussion with comments on the preceding two statements:

    1) Most of us adhere to the worldviews of our own cultural groups far more than we realize, and it is difficult for us to recognize when those worldviews do not match up with the Biblical directive(s). Examples from the past are endorsement (and practice) of slavery in a (very religious) American supposedly dedicated to equality and liberty; ditto for Jim Crow laws and segregation; the way some have equated alcohol use with the ultimate evil (and are convinced that the “wine” Jesus turned the water into was really grape juice). I’m not sure what examples in the present are: I’m blind to my own blind spots. However, I suspect that our casual acceptance of no-fault-divorce, our materialism, our gluttony are all candidates.

    Somehow we need to ride the see-saw of legalism vs. license and find a balance. Our culture would rather ride on Tarzan’s swinging vine than find a “boring” balance.

    2) I think we think more like our ancestors than we realize. I’m proud that my people, mostly the Celts of ancient Britain, received the Gospel with gladness … they were intensely spiritual people. They were also warlike, grudge-holding, individualistic to the point of ridiculousness, and sometimes dirty and foul and grossly immoral. In America, my people the Scots-Irish tamed the wilderness and contributed music, character, and innumerable leaders and pioneers. They also were racists, stubborn as mules, hot-heads, and sometimes incapable of “decentering” (taking others’ viewpoints).

    I see myself, my parents and grandparents, and my children in both the good and the bad descriptions above. We live life with intensity and passion, and scorn “milk toast” people. We got this approach to life from the pioneers and from the Celts. What we as modern (and postmodern) believers need to do is ask God to help us “decenter” — to see us as He sees us. It’s a scary question to ask God … but if we are as truly courageous as we like to think, we’ll have the guts to do it.

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