Love America, Worship God

Kelli Crawford

“God Bless The USA” took singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood to No. 7 on the country music charts in 1984.

This heartfelt patriotic song dominated the airwaves again during the Gulf War and after 9/11. We’ve all heard it. You could probably sing it right now. The song’s popularity says a lot about our culture.

Being Christian, especially in the South, has become synonymous with love of God and love of country. But when it comes to how much we love our country, is there such a thing as too much of a good thing?

3 Questions We Should Ask About Ourselves About Patriotism

1. Why is patriotism so interwoven with Christianity?

Patriotism is “devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country.” Fervor for one’s country naturally dominated early American life, as the colonists celebrated a new land free from the English monarchy. Most of those early colonists were also devoutly Christian, according to the Library of Congress. Over time, the early American devotion to country and early American devotion to God easily merged, devotion to country becoming almost synonymous with devotion to God.

2. Has my love of country gone too far?

Do Christians sometimes allow devotion to country take priority over devotion to God? Yes.

Many years ago, I sang in the choir of a little country church for a “patriotic” service on July 4. We said the pledge to the American flag, sang all patriotic songs, heard speeches from war veterans, and received a sermon on good citizenship. I left church that day thinking, “What exactly did we just do? Did we worship Jesus today?”

Loving our country isn’t a bad thing. But when the focus of our worship goes from Christ to country, our patriotism has gone too far.

3. What is my responsibility to my country?

The Bible helps us understand the difference between proper love of country and worshipful love of God.  

Romans 13:1 teaches us to respect our country because “all authority comes from God.” Because our country is our governmental authority, we respect its role in God’s design. Later in 1 Timothy 2:1-3, the Bible also tells us to pray for our nation’s leaders, another demonstration of our love and support of country. In both New Testament passages, the emphasis is respect and support. However, the Bible in no way tells us to elevate our love of country to a form of worship. Worship is for God alone.

We just have to make sure this good thing does not become the ultimate thing.

Patriotism is an appropriate expression of our love of country. We just have to make sure this good thing does not become the ultimate thing. Because loving anything, even ‘Merica, more than God is sin (Matthew 4:10).

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