Patriotism ~ love for or devotion to one’s country (Merriam-Webster) ~ devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty. (Dictionary.com)
“By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force upon other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.” ~ George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism
I was born and raised military. As a little girl, I would polish my dad’s combat boots and the brass for his uniforms, and I always felt a sense of pride in it, though I would not have known the words to tell you that. The sight of soldiers and combat boots was as commonplace in my life then as the sight of people with cell phones is today. Naturally, I grew up and married a soldier, and within a few years grew bored so it made perfect sense to join the Army myself.
When I finished my enlistment and was simultaneously done with my marriage, I left the military and walked into a completely different life. It took less than a year for me to regret my choice not to re-enlist. I missed the community of military life and the discipline required to be a soldier. I missed the sense of purpose. I missed the sight of soldiers and the sound of taps at the end of every workday. Whenever I went back home for a visit, the familiar sound of helicopters on maneuvers at all hours was comforting, like home-cooking comforting. Is that weird? Maybe it’s weird. I don’t know. It’s not weird to me, but it may be to you. Unless you grew up on military bases. If that’s you, I know that you know, right? Do you miss it too?
Anyway, then I met someone and, you know, kids came, and then my military world became just a part of my past. But the patriotism it instilled in me never left. The pride in our military, in what our flag stands for, in what we stand for…it has always run strong in my veins, and if you dared to talk bad about any of it, I would turn on you. I was, in every sense of the word, a patriot. Proud of this nation and convinced it’s the greatest on the earth.
I am pro-life, and pro-first and second amendments and want both preserved. I also have a deep respect for the office of the President of this country, even if I do not agree with or even like who occupies that office at the moment. I love the freedom this country affords me to vocalize my opinion, to practice my faith without persecution, and to have a say in who governs our way of life. I am so grateful to God for where He chose to plant me, and I would not want to live anywhere else, except heaven.
But lately. Lately I have felt the pull of the Holy Spirit to reposition my heart, to see with different eyes, to get the perspective from heaven. And that has been hard on my patriotic soul.
To reposition my heart is to consider my true home. To recognize that God has, through the blood of Christ, made me a foreigner on this earth. Regardless of where I’m planted, my citizenship is in heaven. I know, I know. We all quote it and nod our heads in agreement and then go right back to our outrage, our theories, and our side of the argument. But my transference of citizenship is not just a theory, it is as true as the death and resurrection of Jesus. God has told us something that very few of us in the Body of Christ actually live out as truth. We agree it’s true, but we don’t live it. To reposition my heart means I have to live it. Everyday.
It means I have to be willing to shift my loyalties and pull away from the umbilical cord of patriotism for a country that is actually not my home. It’s a slow process because I have a deep identity as a patriot within me that I now have to deny. I cannot be a patriot, because it divides my devotion. It clouds my view of reality.
Which means I need to see things with different eyes. Take off the rose-colored lens I’ve seen this country through, and see it from a distance. From the heavens. To see what God sees. As I have attempted to draw back and get a bigger, better view, my heart has hurt. I now see a sin-sick nation that has, for the most part, turned from God in terrible pride, rebellion, and arrogance, bent on power and control. And right now, I bet some of you think I’m talking about Trump, and others think I’m talking about Biden. It is neither of them, it is us. The collective nation that has reduced our utter moral decay into a blame game of one party or the other, each of us believing that God stands with us on either the right or the left. Thinking we can bring God down to our level of self-righteousness and arrogance while He brings judgment to the other side.
Woe unto us.
To see with different eyes means I have to be willing to remove my patriotic glasses that sees good on the right and bad on the left (or vice versa), and look at this country as a whole, and see what God sees and I’m just saying, it’s a freaking horror show.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light
and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” ~ Isaiah 5:20
I know we all want to believe that when God looks at the United States, He sees what we see. He sees the greatest nation on the earth, a superpower, an idealistic place where the American dream is attainable, and “bring me your huddled masses” makes us more virtuous than all others. He sees democracy at it’s finest. A Republic, built on the belief that all men are created equal, although we have never really lived that way.
I think maybe, collectively, we don’t consider that He sees rampant sexual sin in the forms of pornography, adultery, homosexuality, and unfettered fornication without consequences and that we have actually fought for the right to most of it. Do we think He simply shakes His head over our lust for more – more stuff, more money, more power, as though He just caught us sneaking a cookie before dinner? Do we ever wonder what He thinks as He witnesses millions of wombs being emptied through the murder of the unborn? Or do we think He agrees that we have the right to kill our babies? Do we think He agrees with “my body, my choice”, or do we actually just not care about or need His agreement?
Deception and corruption, lying and cheating, are everywhere, at every level of governance, in every position of authority. Marriages and children both being defiled by sexual sin in, really, alarming numbers. Do you know that it is estimated that one in three women have had some form of sexual abuse as children? And all of this is simply the tip of the iceberg. Our sins go much deeper than what many of us know, deeper than what we read about on the internet (our primary source of truth these days).
We sin without shame in this nation, and then ask God to bless us, and be on our side, and agree with us that we are the greatest nation, ever.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)
I don’t think that, collectively, we understand that we have fallen so very short of the glory of God. We just keep pretending that it isn’t so.
I cannot, before God, hold onto my patriotic pride. It feels like a betrayal in some ways, but that is part of the process for me, I suppose. I have let go of patriotism in order to take hold of the heart of God. I know people will say you can have both, but I am of the belief that holding onto God with one hand while trying to hold onto something else with the other is a dangerous endeavor. I find it is wise for me to hold onto God with both hands. It’s just better that way.
So now what? Now, I do what I am most called and equipped to do. I speak truth, and I pray, as a citizen of heaven, for the people in this nation. I pray for the outpouring of the gospel and repentance, because I know that until hearts are surrendered over to God through faith in Jesus, nothing will change. And because I know that God is after people, those He created for fellowship with Him and are now living on the other side of a great chasm, separated from Him. God is not playing some cosmic game of battleship with the nations of the earth. He is revealing Himself to the people of the nations so that they might believe and be saved from the coming day of wrath. It has always and will ever be about restoring our relationship with Him so that we will not perish. So I pray, with what will hopefully become an undivided interest in what God is after, rather than what I want to see happen in the politics of this country.
So to my fellow believers, I say this: We are the Church of Christ and we know that this life is short and eternity is, well, eternal. I am compelled to urge us to check our investment in what is temporary versus what is eternal. What are we raising the next generation to fix their eyes on?
Have we the courage to lay our hearts next to God’s so that we see the truth about our hearts? Can we put all of our national pride, our allegiance to a party or a cause, up to the light of God’s word and let Him show us what we need to lay down?
Can we please check our hearts? Can we please, for the love of all that’s holy, close our mouths for a minute? Will we remember who we are – foreigners on this earth, citizens of heaven? That’s a real thing, not just something in a storybook. We should probably take it more seriously than we do.
Can we lay down our pride and our need to be right, and just pick up our cross and go love who God loves? Can we please open our eyes and see that only God is good and only God is great and nations are nations only by His hand and let it humble us and pull the prayer from our lungs and quiet the national pride that excuses our gossip and our hatred? I think we can do this. I pray we can do this.
Because a storm is coming and God resists the proud but draws near to the humble and beloved, we’re going to want Him near.