Wavin' Flag from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 Kara Harms, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

I don’t serve a patriotic god.

I don’t serve a god who is beholden to American rules and regulations, to our political system or our cultural moors. I don’t serve a god who is Republican or Democrat. I don’t serve a god who is for, or against, America. The god I serve is not America’s god.

There is more to this world than the 50 states of the Union. God as I know him is sovereign over the world, all the lands, all the seas, the countries, and the nations. The kingdom of my God is big enough to engulf the entirety of creation, including all of the earth.

So no, I don’t serve a patriotic god.

These patriotic services we hold in our Sunday morning church services, I have to ask what god are we worshiping in them? July 4th rolls around and we begin to elevate America as God’s country as if all his promises for salvation and renewal rested within our borders. We begin to insist that because some of the founders of our country believed in Yahweh that we are nothing but a Christian nation and that if we somehow turn back to God as a country we will be glorified and raised back to power among the nations. What does that even mean? Does it mean that God wants America to be the number one power in the world, for us to wield some sort of theocratic authority over the rest of the earth? I don’t think so.

So what god will we worship: the patriotic god fashioned in America’s image or the suffering servant we see in Jesus?

I refuse to serve a patriotic god.

I don’t care what country it is, any god that is tied to the nationalism of that nation is a false deity, nothing more than a human crafted idol. I want to serve Jesus, not a god who waves the American flag and sings songs of praise to a national identity.

There is nothing wrong with loving the country of your birth. There is nothing wrong with wanting good for that nation. There is something deadly wrong with tying your God of salvation to your love of your country.

See, we are citizens of the kingdom of God. This became our primary identity when we began to believe in Jesus for salvation. This changes our priorities, or at least it should. We are no longer for our country first: we are for Jesus and his kingdom first. No matter the love we have for our country, no matter how great we believe our nation to be, we are citizens of that nation far second to our identity as citizens of the kingdom of light, the kingdom of Christ.

So why would we do ANYTHING that could be misconstrued as worship of our nation and some small idol of a patriotic god?

Universal Captain America from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 JD Hancock, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Take the flags out of your place of worship. Remove the nationalistic songs from your hymn book. These things have their place, but it’s not in church, not in the place where we gather as citizens of the kingdom of heaven. A church should be the last place we have xenophobic practices and national prejudice. As the body of Christ, we should be the people that never bow at the altar of nationalistic pride. You can love your country, but love Jesus and your neighbor more.

The God we serve is so much bigger than a national vision of power and pride. Can’t you step into that with me, into the bigness of the kingdom, into the multitude, from every tribe, tongue, and nation that worships at the throne of the Lamb who was slain? It’s in this bigness, in the multitude of faces, that we begin to catch a glimpse of the greatness of the God we serve, of the beauty of the suffering servant, of the joy of the resurrected Christ.

Let us stop serving a patriotic god, and begin to serve, worship, and adore above all the one true god: Jesus the Christ given as body and blood for you and I and for every person in every nation. This is the greatness of the love of God who takes away our sins. This isn’t a myopic vision of a nation in power somehow ordained by a deity. This is the truth we are invited into.

I will not serve a patriotic god.

Instead, let me serve the king of the kingdom of heaven: Jesus my lord and my god.