God Bless America! A Christian should pray for and desire God’s blessing on his or her country. Christianity will include believers from every tongue and people and nation. Christianity supersedes any nationality, yet God still commands us to honor and pray for kings and countries. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), but for now we still live in this world.
Patriotism is not necessary to Christian worship, but it does not need to be contradictory.
Patriotism appreciates one’s own country. A Christian patriot would love God supremely while loving his country subordinately. He would thank God for the beliefs, values and traditions that he enjoys within his country. God receives all glory as his people enjoy His good gifts.
Those who have invested the most in a country seem to care the most about that country. Military veterans may have the greatest claim on patriotism. They have given themselves for the good of the country. Many of these patriots demonstrate that love for God does not exclude love for country.
Army Core Values - Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. Navy and Marines Core Values - Honor, Courage, Commitment (Marines - Semper Fidelis “Always Faithful”). Air Force Core Values - Integrity first, Service before self, Excellence in all we do.
A Christian can love and serve God and love and serve his country at the same time. To honor one does not require us to ignore or dishonor the other.
Honoring a nation does not require worship and can exist under worship of God
1 Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
“Honour the king” - Although the United States does not have a king, we may understand king (metonymy) to represent our government or nation. Beyond obedience, God commands us to honor. This honor likely includes the ideas of loyalty, service, duty and obedience.
God also commands us to pray for our country’s leaders. Our prayers ultimately aim at quiet, peaceable, godly, honest living in our country. God wants us to seek the peace and spiritual prosperity of our nation.
Honor Country similar to Honor Parents
No person, no family, no community, no country is perfect and sinless. The OT records the faults and failures of God’s chosen nation Israel. No other country can claim God’s special blessing that Israel enjoyed, but God still establishes kings and kingdoms. God has ordained this nation and these leaders for us, and he commands us to honor them. Our national identity does not change every four years with one administration replacing another. Our traditions, our history and our values identify us as a people and nation. We honor our leaders and nation not because of their current decisions, but because of God’s providential provision for us through them. We honor them because we honor God.
Just as God commands us to honor our parents, who are flawed, we honor our country, which is flawed. Neither a drunken father, a maniacal emperor, nor a philandering president relieves us of our obligation to honor.
Daniel 2:21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
Romans 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Worship of God includes recognition of his work in our lives including our nation
Worship is the recognition and proclamation of God’s greatness in his person and his works.
We need not separate his person and works. We love him because he loved us. Our experience of God provides opportunity for worship. We can worship God for his work in our family, community and country.
Worship of God includes giving thanks for blessings
Psalms 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
We should thank God for our country. The details of thankfulness may vary for citizens of different countries. God has placed us in this country and given us these leaders. We should glorify God for his benefits even in our country.
Worship of God is not limited to a formal service, and honor of parents and authorities is not excluded from corporate worship. Priority always belongs to God, but subordinate honor can be recognized for God’s glory.
How should Christians worship God corporately? Prayer, fellowship, service, singing, Scripture reading, giving, ordinances, preaching.
The regulative principle of worship would not exclude prayer for our country and its leaders as commanded in Scripture. It would not exclude songs which praise God for his grace in our families and country. It would not prevent us from honoring our authorities as we pray for God to provide peace and godliness through them as Scripture commands.
We must beware that honoring our country for God’s sake does not become worshipping our country in place of God. We must not love God’s benefits more than we love God himself.
Although a representative government is uncommon in history, American churches have a special opportunity and responsibility through their members to elect and encourage moral government.
Exodus 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
We have the special opportunity to elect our own leaders. We understand that God still ordains our leaders, but we bear the moral responsibility to vote in our country. We should not divorce the church’s input or influence from that choice. We may not be able to endorse a certain candidate or party, but we can educate and inform our people towards godly decisions. We must teach our people to think and vote according to biblical standards. As the OT prophets spoke boldly about the spiritual condition of Israel, the church must not be silent about our country’s spiritual condition.
Beware of nationalism. Patriotism can evolve into a superior attitude and worship of one’s nation.
Scripture commands us to honor, be thankful for and pray for our nation. This does not mean that our nation is better than another, but we can still worship God for His grace expressed to us through our families and countries.