Does the Bible say much about patriotism? If so, is it wrong or is it right?
Our True Citizenship
Our truest citizenship is not in the nations we live in but the Kingdom of God, which is why the Apostle Paul wrote that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20). Even the Old Testament saints understood that they were simply sojourners, traveling to a new and better place (Rev 21:1-5), so “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Heb 11:13-16). It is those who have trusted in Christ that will receive their inheritance and a place for them in the New Jerusalem, but it’s much more than just a place.
A Place for You
Jesus promised His followers that they would serve Him and His kingdom after He returns to establish it on earth (Rev 21:1-2). Jesus told His disciples that He was about to return to the Father, but He would return again, and so He tries to reassure them by saying, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). Since He is coming again, this can only mean that He would continue to prepare a place for them until the entered the kingdom, but it’s much more than a place…it’s an official position of authority. The word “place” comes from the Greek word “topos” and means an actual, physical location or a portion of space that’s been marked off, but clearly, this “place” is far more than just a space. It is a position in the kingdom, so there will be an office or position to hold for those who have put their trust in Christ. Jesus said as much in the Book of Revelation where it was written of the church that, “you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:10).
The New Home
Those who have trusted in Christ will have a new place and new home in the kingdom because that’s where their citizenship is, but those who have already died in the faith have already inherited theirs, so it makes no sense for Jesus to simply be referring to place like a mansion to live in and never having anything to do. A king has a “place” but it’s much more than just space. His place is his throne, but with that place comes authority and power. As for our purpose or place in the kingdom, it will not be fully known until the King of the kingdom arrives and we receive our new names in the New Jerusalem. Isaiah writes of the future kingdom that, “The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give” (Isaiah 62:2) and for “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name” (Rev 3:12). Everything will be new…and all the old things will finally be gone (Rev 21:4-5).
I see nothing wrong with being patriotic. Many have died so that we might live, work, and worship in peace and freedom. This freedom of ours came at a great cost to many, so it’s good and proper to acknowledge our veterans and those who are currently serving in the military. They deserve our thanks and gratitude. There is one “church” that refuses to fly the American flag, but nothing in the Bible forbids this. The only issue that might come up with patriotism is when the love of our country overshadows the love of God, which is the first and greatest commandment (Matt 22:38). Being patriotic isn’t wrong, but breaking civil laws is. Those who are Christ-followers do not break the law because they understand “whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Rom 13:2) for they are “God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom 13:4).
The definition of patriotism or to be patriotic simply means “loving one’s country” and showing your support and loyalty to it. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. The Bible doesn’t restrict it or forbid it that I could find, so as far as I know, it’s silent on this subject. The only time it becomes sinful is when our pride and love for our country supersede our love for God. That is always sin, but that could be said of any number of things, because anything that gets between us and God becomes our own god…and a false one at that. They call it idolatry. There is a place for you in the kingdom. If you have repented and trusted in Christ, Jesus is now preparing such a place for you. If not, there is another place that was originally prepared for the Devil and his angels. I pray that’s not your final place.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.