Last Summer I attended a huge missions conference in Orlando, Florida. Thousands of delegates from dozens of countries attended the conference jointly participating in preaching, worship services, and seminars. It was a great time gain a further understanding of how world-focused our God is. He's not bound by our nationalities, political views, ethnic backgrounds, languages or any other wide assortment of distinguishing features manufactured by man.
After spending a week at this missions conference, I headed home and on the way home attended a church which was celebrating 4th of July Sunday. - Quick side note: I love my country; I love what it stands for, what it's accomplished - But when I came out of that 4th of July service, I started questioning whether or not the American Church had the whole concept of patriotism right. I had been worshiping with people of all ethnicities and just two days later I was at a whole service devoted to patriotic songs and anthems with American flag decorations adorning the whole sanctuary.
I wonder if we as Christians sometimes prioritize our loyalty to America, putting it over and above our loyalty to the kingdom of God. I would not have felt comfortable bringing one of the international members of the missions conference to that 4th of July church service, it would have felt wrong being so America-focused. As much as it goes against our idea of being good Christian citizens, patriotism should not be a major facet of any church in any country.
I feel like this misplaced patriotism is summed up in a new poll by Rasmussen Reports. The poll says that 51% of Americans believe that the United States is the last best hope for mankind. Liberals aren't really on board with the idea of America being the last best hope for mankind, but Conservatives overwhelmingly support that notion.
Think about that for a second. If conservatives overwhelmingly support the idea that America is the hope for mankind, then many Christians must have indicated their support of that belief. And after all, shouldn't any good conservative, even a Christian conservative, believe in American exceptionalism, that America is the solution, the hope for this world?
I know I run the risk of stepping on toes here, but believing that America is the hope of the world is biblically wrong. America is not the hope for this world. America doesn't have the solutions to fix this world. The hope of this world rests in Jesus. Period. There is no other answer to the problem of this world. Jesus, and Jesus alone, can fix this world.
Christians get caught up in this conservative train of thought that tells us to put country first. Ironically, John McCain used 'Country first' as his campaign slogan and I heard no one reject that idea. We shouldn't put our country first. The kingdom of God should come first. We should be American patriots. But if that patriotism ever begins to encroach upon our allegiance to the Kingdom of God, then we have misplaced our priorities and our loyalty.
The best patriots America has ever known have put God, not America, first.