America has a strong sense of national pride. This pride is fostered within us at a young age and facilitated throughout our lifetime. As children we stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at school. As adults we stand and remove our hats when the National Anthem is sung. When we turn eighteen we are allowed and expected to vote in elections. Each year we observe a holiday to celebrate our independence. Every four years we spectate as our finest athletes compete in the Olympics. Even our favorite characters from movies and video games appeal to our national pride, such as The Avengers’ Captain America and Assassin’s Creed III’s Connor.
A Flawed Trend
This national pride has found a place in the church. American flags are waved on church property. Tributes to veterans and soldiers are included in worship services. God is thanked during prayers for allowing us to live in this country. Many believe the Constitution is founded upon biblical principles and the founding fathers are godly men. America is often portrayed as “God’s nation.” In my experience, most Christians are more proud of their citizenship to America than their membership to the church! This line of thinking is unbiblical and maybe even treasonous. Let’s consider what the Bible says about national pride and what it means for us today.
What the Bible Says
There are six biblical and theological points we must consider:
- First, America is a nation of the world. It achieved its independence by worldly means and exercises it in worldly ways. It is organized by a worldly form of government that operates according to worldly politics.
- Second, the nations of the world belong to Satan. The New Testament often uses “world” to refer to the fallen spiritual system that is under the authority of Satan (1 John 5:19; Matt. 4:8). As a nation of the world, America is under the dominion and lordship of Satan.
- Third, the church is the nation of God. The New Testament quotes Old Testament prophecy to show that God has set apart a people for Himself through the saving work of Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:16; 1 Pet. 2:9-10). The church, not America is “the nation whose God is the LORD” (Ps. 33:12).
- Fourth, the nation of God belongs to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). This headship involves ownership and authority.
- Fifth, Jesus Christ has authority over the nations of the world. Jesus reigns supreme over all worldly powers (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-21; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 19:12, 16).
- Sixth, the nation of God is superior to the nations of the world. The church transcends national boundaries (Gal. 3:28). Those of opposing ethnicities are reconciled in Jesus (Eph. 2:14). Equal membership in the church is granted to all who believe in Jesus Christ.
What It Means For Us Today
If you are a Christian, should you be proud to be an American? While it seems harmless, you may actually be betraying your true country. Paul tells the Galatians that “it is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good” (Gal. 4:18). In the same way, it is fine to be patriotic, provided you are patriotic for the right country. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20), and as God’s people we must be more patriotic for His nation than for any worldly nation. We are born as citizens of America but now we are born anew as citizens of the church of Jesus Christ, which is truly “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
What does this mean? What does national pride in the church look like? It means we celebrate the spiritual blessings and freedom from sin that Jesus offers. It means we tribute Christian martyrs and saints who are persecuted for Jesus’ sake in our worship services. It means we thank God for allowing us to be citizens of His kingdom in our prayers. It means we uphold the Bible as our legislation and its inspired writers as our founding fathers. It means we redirect our national pride and redefine our national identities as members of the church.