I am not a controversial person. Seriously. I do not enjoy arguing and I would rather avoid conflict, if at all possible.
But this one has got me riled up.
Tweets and blogs implying that it is inappropriate for churches to have patriotic services. I respectfully disagree.
And I cannot ignore this stirring in my heart to say something.
Here are a few questions I would like to ask you:
- Do you really believe that honoring our servicemen or singing patriotic songs dishonor the Lord? Do you realize the very oath they take to protect your freedom says, “I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”
- Are you an American-born citizen, who most likely just takes for granted the privilege it is to live in a free country? I suggest you spend some time in a Third-World country. I guarantee your perspective will change.
- Have any of your fathers or grandfathers served this country in our armed forces? You should thank them personally if you’re not willing to do it corporately.
- Do you really believe that we are worshiping our country or those that have fought for her freedom—when in reality we are honoring and worshiping as “One nation, under God”, the One who has allowed us to live and serve Him in a place where we can freely proclaim His message?
I pray you will honestly consider listening to a different opinion than the one you have expressed:
I live near an Air Force base, and am blessed to be in a church that has a patriotic service every year.
And I absolutely love it.
The first time I served on an overseas mission trip was in 1995. We took a team to Radom, Poland where we taught conversational English and did evangelism in a city of over 250,000 people with no evangelical church. Communism had robbed these people of the opportunity to hear the good news of the gospel and they lived in poverty–physically and spiritually.
Though we didn’t look that much different on the outside, they knew we were not from there. The hope we carried with us was not in fancy clothes–it was on our faces and in our hearts. A family that invited us to their home asked us, “Why would you come here?”, and said they had never dreamed that it would be possible for them to ever meet an American. They questioned us long into the night, and though they had very little, treated us like we were honored guests. We were privileged to share the gospel with them in their own home, and they listened intently.
Why? Because to them, we represented freedom. Our country was–and is still a beacon of hope.
Do I worship this country? No. But I am forever grateful for the privilege of living here. I didn’t make the choice, like so many others have–it was made for me. And I’m grateful.
Do you know why? Because I know that God has blessed America in the past. Our forefathers came here for religious freedom. They fought to defend the freedoms that we enjoy–and that many take for granted.
Less than 48 hours ago I was in South Africa visiting my daughter and son-in-law who are missionaries to Madagascar. They love their homeland, but because they were privileged to be born in a free country where they had the opportunity to hear the gospel, they chose to live in a foreign land and share that Good News with others less fortunate. Let me tell you, they appreciate their heritage.
But they serve the God of the universe.
And they can do both. Just because I honor my godly husband for his love, his protection, and provision, doesn’t mean that I worship him–I am actually obeying Scripture.
I read the article warning us that we should not love our country more than we love God.
Is that not obvious?
Of course we shouldn’t love our church more than we love God, either, but it doesn’t mean that if you have that tendency you should stop attending church. It is a heart problem, not one of “too much patriotism”. Anything we love more than God becomes an idol.
Maybe even our own words.
Let’s be careful what we say. Flippantly or not, the damage done is hard to undo.
“I will praise You, Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations.” Psalm 57:9
God Bless America,
If ever there was a time this country needed the intervention of God, it is now. We can and should pray for America as a whole, but remember that when God sets out to change a nation, He begins by changing people. It starts with individuals. [Billy Graham, July 29, 2013]
You can watch this year’s service online!