Saturday, June 30, 2012

Be Patriotic like the Apostle Paul!

I'm very thankful to be a citizen of the United States of America. I consider myself patriotic. On July 4th (but not only on this day) I'll certainly be thinking and praying especially for our nation's leaders and military, as well as thanking God for the unique freedoms He has provided me- and asking Him to help me not waste those freedoms as it concerns the gospel. However, tomorrow on the Lord's Day we won't be singing about the flag but singing about THE KING. Jesus is an authority higher than the U.S. Government, His battle to secure my freedom infinitely more costly, the freedom He provides infinitely more satisfying, and the Kingdom He has made me a citizen of is everlasting.

I say this not to disparage the privileges God has given us as U.S. citizens nor do I want to disregard the sacrifices our men and women of the armed forces have made to secure that freeom. I love those patriotic songs that remind us of these things but on the Lord's Day, when the Lord's people assemble I want to give the highest honors to Whom it is due.

So if not through replacing songs to Christ with songs about our nation on Sunday, how can the church uniquely demonstrate patriotism? Be patriotic like Paul!

Consider in Romans 13:1-7 Paul's instructions to "be subject to the governing authorities". He also acknowledges, as should we, that human government is an instrument which God uses to execute justice and limit sin. I don't agree with many things the different branches of our government does or believes but I want to be patriotic like Paul by submitting to their authority and being thankful the Lord uses the government for His righteous purposes.

Consider in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 Paul's command to pray for "all who are in high positions". Be patriotic like Paul by praying for your President and other elected officials (whether you voted for them or not). Pray for them that they would receive and heed godly and wise counsel. Pray that they would come to faith and submit to the High King who is over all as God desires that they would (v. 4).

Consider in 2 Timothy 2:3-4 Paul's analogy of the Roman soldiers he was so familiar with to commend the church to "Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him." So Paul sees virtue in a soldier's commitment to suffer for a greater purpose, in his resistance of peacetime luxuries during war, and in his commitment to please his commander. He recognizes the virtue in this so much that he applies it (perfectly) to the Christian life. I think it is fair to say we should be patriotic like Paul by looking to those military men and women and thanking them for their service- not only because the protect us from harm but because they set an example for us as "soldiers of Christ Jesus".

Praise God for the freedoms He has given us in this country. Be patriotic like Paul by not wasting it. Paul said "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:14); and "I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself be disqualified" (1 Cor 9:26-27). He never quit. I like singing patriotic songs but if you really want to honor the Lord and thank him for the freedoms He's given us in the U.S.A. use them to advance the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ to all the nations.

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