My dad raised my brother, sister, and me, to be patriotic. When the Star-Spangled Banner was played before a football game my dad would stand with his hand over his heart and we were expected to do the same. Patriotism was an everyday thing and for my dad, the Marine, he would not have it any other way.
I do know, however, that many people do not see the country the same way or with the same respect my family did. Some folks believe national boundaries are arbitrary barriers between people. And some folks even believe that our country is very imperfect and has done violence and harm to innocent people. I come from a different point of view!
The great spiritual writer C.S. Lewis (who was from Great Britain) said, “As the family offers us the first step beyond self-love, so patriotism offers us the first step beyond family selfishness.” In other words, Lewis sees country as another way to connect to others, and in doing so, we learn to love and care for a larger group of people.
It is true that God did not draw the boundaries between nations. Borders are arbitrary and can be changed. I do not believe where we are born is arbitrary. Just as God has placed each of us in a family, I believe God has placed each of us in a nation. As He places us, God calls us to care for our families and countrymen. Loyalty is a Godly virtue, I believe.
The Bible gives us some insight to patriotism. It reminds us that nothing should ever be held higher than God. It tells us that our citizenship is in heaven, not here on earth. It also teaches us, that while we are here on earth, that we should pray for “kings and all who are in high positions, that we might lead a peaceful and quiet life (1 Timothy 2:2).” The Psalms teach us “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33).”
My Brothers and Sisters, there is no doubt that our love for others should not end at our borders. We are all called to take the step beyond country to love others from different cultures and lands. Jesus even calls us to step out farther than that, and love those we consider to be our enemies. There can be no boundaries on our love. But, at the same time, being loyal to our country is important.
As we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, we are grateful for those who fought to give us freedom. We re-commit ourselves to the basic values of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. We pray hard that our leaders and our people do our best to make our nation faithful to God and to His values. May God bless America. May God bless us all.