Should American flags, national holidays, and patriotism have a place in worship? Yes, but only with eyes wide open, with a biblical sensitivity.
The complaints are justified. Too often, our view of Christianity includes a lot of American baggage. Sometimes, patriotism is so unchecked as to confuse our first commitment to God’s kingdom. Frequently, we take away worship time from God and allot it to national glorification. Occasionally, we convey a “my country—right or wrong” menatality. At times, we display an unbridled enthusiasm for our country without introspection and without judging our nation against the standard of God’s Word.
Yet, we can incorporate into our worship services observances of patriotic days, if we follow some basic principles.
Here are some principles:
- Christians are called to be good citizens.
- Christians are called to pray for their country and their leaders, and to do their part to make their country better.
- Christians are called to pray for national repentance in regard to the ills of their country’s society and in regard to faults in their country’s foreign policies.
- Christians are to be thankful for the good things about their country.
- Christians are to pray for their national enemies.
- Christians are to pray for those in the military, for God’s protective care over them, for them to return home quickly and safely, and that the government would never send them into war without a necessary and just cause.
Even in the worst country, Christians can follow these principles, and display their country’s flags and observe national holidays.
Although the United States has its own set of problems, there are many good things about my country. We have freedom of worship. We have a country whose Founding Fathers based the protection of civil liberties on biblical principles. We enjoy peace and security within our borders so that the vast majority of us enjoy basic privileges, such as sending our children to school during the day, enjoying picnics at the park, and watching a ballgame, or practicing violin. We generally aren’t afraid that our children might be kidnapped to be used as child soldiers. We generally do not fear that militants in the next town over might attack us in the night. We generally have the opportunity to vote the bums out of office. If we see a policeman, we generally have a sense of respect and security, rather than fear and loathing.
For such things, and for many others, we can be proud to be American, but such pride must be flow with all due humility from the throne of God’s grace.