From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

Patriotism And Christianity

Seems like nearly every week I get an email urging me to pray for our country – and to pass it on to x number of friends. The worst of them promise that if I’ll do this, something good will happen to me. I want to say here: RUBBISH! Prayer is not a way to get what we want. It’s a way to want what we get.

There’s a lot more here that could and should be said, but I’m pressed for time right now. So I’ll just point this out. In John 6, some “disciples” were chasing after Jesus because he’d fed 5000 with a few loaves of bread. They want him alright, but for the wrong reason. Verse 26: Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” They wanted to use Jesus to get more bread. They wanted bread more than they wanted Jesus. I think the same thing applies here. Some want Jesus in order to get elected, or to get certain people elected. Some want Jesus because they want to win the lottery, or to get better health, or to get good grades. It’s not that they want Jesus for himself. They want him to get what they want.

I’m hearing this same thing in the patriotic emails. Pray so that we’ll be great again. Isn’t that what many of the folks in Jesus’ day expected of the Messiah? To make their nation great again? And his response to that was…

I love my country. I am a patriot. I think we’ve lost our way. But the way back will be patterned more on our Puritan and Pilgrim forebears, who loved their Lord more than their country.

In the end, we’ll not be saying “Thanks for making my country great” but “thanks for who you are, and for what you’ve done.” For us Christians it’s absolutely crucial to keep this distinction.

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