Are Patriotism and Christianity Essentially the Same?
We’ll get back to our series on Eschatology in Romans soon, but we thought it important to highlight and discuss the differences between being a patriot versus being a Christian. The two are not interchangeable. In fact, one can easily and clearly be a patriot without being a Christian at all, though many of those who are virulently patriotic would argue that they are Christian by virtue of the fact that they see themselves as conservative and patriotic. In essence, because they uphold and support the Constitution of the United States of America, they believe this makes them a Christian. It is not necessarily so anymore than a person who was raised to attend a conservative, Baptist church (as a for instance), and continued to attend that church, became a member, and even a deacon and/or Sunday school teacher might be tempted to think because of those things, it proves they are a Christian.
In today’s politically charged arena and way of viewing things, the focus has caused many issues to become seriously muddied. This unfortunately, extends to areas of Christianity and patriotism. It is quite possible for a person who is a Christian to be somewhat patriotic toward their home country, but in many ways, too often patriotism is seen as an automatic adjunct to Christianity. The Christian who is not necessarily known as ultra-patriotic often has their Christianity or commitment to God questioned.
This is exactly what occurs within areas of the United States, especially in the south or the southeast, in what is commonly referred to as the “Bible Belt.” Within this belt, it is traditional and even cultural for people to be raised in the church. They go to church on Sunday morning, often Sunday evening, and attend Wednesday prayer and Bible study as well. They do this as religiously as they go to Wal-Mart and/or Waffle House after church on Sunday. It is part of the southern heritage and many of these folks are very proud of that. It is something they are steeped in from childhood, usually without question. Because of this, it can often become routine to simply attend church and because of that, fully believe one’s self to be a Christian. Unfortunately, as far as the Bible is concerned, this is not how it actually works.
None of this is to say that all people in the south involved in such a routine are not true Christians or that all of them are simply going through the motions. It is to point out that for many within the Bible Belt, the beliefs and culture that exists there forces beliefs, outlooks, and actions that are often seen as Christian and patriotic, simultaneously, but it does not necessarily mean that everyone is a Christian. It can be misleading.
Guns are big in the south. Individual rights are pursued and embraced. People within the Bible Belt want less government intrusion because they rightly believe that the Constitution guarantees certain unalienable rights and the government has no right or business in attempting to abrogate those rights. While this is true, some are also willing to use violent resistance against the government to maintain these values. This is also not part of Christianity.
Because of this, for way too many people in the Bible Belt states, often the Constitution is nearly considered equal to the Canon of Scripture without actually saying that. People in the Bible Belt consistently point to our founding fathers – many of whom were actually Deists and not Christians – as proof that America is a nation “under God.” The real truth of the matter though is that regardless of what our founders’ intentions may have been, America has been driven off her moorings over many decades and we now have a country that little resembles the potential original conception of our founders. Would that Christians knew their Bibles as well as they think they know the Constitution and what our founders meant when they drew up that document.
In spite of the level of racism that continues to exist in places like the south as well as the many social problems within society, churchgoers who are also patriots, believe that the “evils” within America are worthy of not only our attention, but worth fighting to correct and, as noted, that might include resistance toward the government. All patriots (and therefore, Christians), are expected to join the front lines and fight, fight, fight for what is left of our country. Those who are more concerned with the salvation of souls are seen as afraid, unconcerned, weak, and even unChristian.
The problem of course, is that this type of thinking without doubt existed during Jesus’ day. It’s not something new to our day here in America. In fact, the man whom the Jewish leaders wanted released instead of Jesus – Barabbas – had been arrested for his attempts to overthrow the Roman government (cf. Matthew 27). The penalty for such a crime of insurrection was execution. Barabbas is one of numerous individuals who were always doing what they could to incite other Jews against Rome. There is absolutely no record of our Lord Jesus ever condoning their actions or seeking to join in with them. In fact, it could easily be argued that many of His sermons spoke against their efforts. Yet, we have people today who believe themselves to be Christian who would not necessarily want to do so, but might strap on a gun and fight against the forces of the federal government in order to maintain or salvage their rights. Brothers and sisters, I do not believe that this is something that God would have His children do.
Can a person be a patriot and a Christian at the same time? Certainly, to a point, yes. In America, laws are based on the founding documents, mainly, the Constitution. The three branches of our government are designed to create, support, and determine the constitutionality of new laws. Over the years, it would seem that rogue elements – Marxist elements – have gained the upper hand that have forced people to take sides because of the many bills that have been passed into laws that seem to go against the Constitution. Should Christians take sides? We should always stand up for what is right, without any doubt. But this fight should always be taken up in the courts, not on the streets and never illegally. Is God aware of what is happening in America? Does He understand the loss that America has been experiencing over the decades? Absolutely, and yet, in spite of the prayers of millions and the effort people have put forth through voting, the courts, petitions, etc., things continue to go wrong. Why is that?
Christians know that Christ is coming again. It is not that our earth is shifting into a new dimension or that humans are about to ascend to a higher level of consciousness. Our earth is progressing toward a time of great delusion and tribulation before Jesus ushers in His Millennial Kingdom.
In spite of how far off the foundation America moves, one thing remains: God’s sovereignty. His sovereignty is constant and never in question or doubt. He knows well what is going on in all the earth. In spite of the problems that we continue to see in society, along with how bad things are becoming, the reality is that souls continue needing salvation. Are too many Christians too busy to see what’s going on because they are blinded by a false sense of importance related to our “rights and privileges” as citizens and patriots of America? It is very easy to lose sight of our purpose found within the Great Commission, isn’t it?
We also should never allow any battle to take precedence over the battle for souls and this is often where many Christians fail. Because of Dominionism, too many in America wrongly believe that America was “created” by God just the way He created Israel. Biblically, there is absolutely no connection at all. Only to those who have allegorized Scripture, do they see America as being something it is not.
We received a note from a reader recently that proves how off the mark some folks are when it comes to Christianity. He said in part:
God is tired of Christians who preach to one another, but never enter the fight and so our country was almost lost because “Christian Pastors” were afraid to take their religion to the streets and fight the evil that you allowed to take over this country. Get out of you safe little churches and be part of God’s army that gets involved. What good is your Christianity if you never use it to battle the enemy?
Clearly, this individual is thoroughly confused about Christianity and the Christian’s purpose. As Paul states, we fight not against flesh and blood but against powers in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12), and those powers are after souls. That’s the largest part of their agenda. Pushing back against Marxism or other “isms” that do not align with America’s Constitutional Republic is not the same as fighting for the souls of people who daily die into eternity without knowing Christ. Too many individuals think as the person above. This so-called fight is about bringing the gospel to people who are in desperate need. This includes people on the opposite side of the political aisle. Are you praying for our president and all politicians or do you see them as enemies of your freedom? Do you see them as people who need Jesus or simply people who are in the way, keeping America from being “great” again?
I will say it loudly and strongly once again. As Christians, we should do what we can to correct the ills in society. We should vote for candidates we believe will stem the tide and even possibly turn things around in America. However, we should also not be surprised when things don’t happen as we hope or think they should. Even if things don’t go our way, people still need salvation. They still need to hear about Jesus and His redemption and that has absolutely nothing to do with the veil of evil that is choking society. In fact, it is likely that the more evil society becomes, the more people will become aware of their desperate need for Jesus. Whenever persecution rises, more tend to come into God’s family. This is a fact of history proven repeatedly.
We cannot emphasize this enough. It is not about saving America because according to the Bible, an evil one is coming who will completely take over and rule the entire world. America might still be called “America” at that point, but it will most certainly not be the America that was founded by our founding fathers. When Jesus returns physically to this earth, do we actually believe He’s going to allow America to remain as America? In point of fact, He will set up His Millennial Kingdom over which He Himself will rule from His father David’s throne in Jerusalem. There will be nothing throughout the earth that He does not control. He will reign supreme for 1,000 years and nothing will deter His rule. There will not be a “president” of the United States and it is very possible that the U.S. won’t even exist at that point. Yet, patriots and Christians alike continue to spend endless hours fighting for a country while people die into eternity to the tune of 150,000 per day. Does this make any sense?
Regardless though, there are millions who need to see and hear the love of God lived out in the lives of true Christians. How will they see or hear it if Christians aren’t living it out? If Christians are so caught up in social issues to the point that the only real concern is for “America,” how will people understand that they actually have a need for something that will only be truly and totally fulfilled beyond this life? Saving America isn’t going to do that. There is nothing permanent about America but every person’s soul is forever.
America is a wonderful country and we should do what we can to help maintain law and order. Yet, we must also realize that evil has gained a tremendous foothold in this wonderful country and in spite of the prayers, pleas, faith, and effort of millions of Christians, America continues to slide off its foundation. It is because of what is coming.
Do not be sidetracked. Certainly, be a good, law-abiding citizen. Pray for our leaders. Do what is right. Uphold the law and attempt through every legal means to change bad laws into good ones if you see that as part of your calling. However, always understand that your primary job as a Christian is to call the lost to Jesus. Do not ever forget that.
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