This distinction is especially important for those of us who claim to be Christians—followers of Jesus Christ.
How about you? As America gathers once again to celebrate the 4th of July—are you a patriot or a nationalist? Read on if you're not sure or don't think there's a difference.
Patriot or nationalist?
The 4th of July celebration is a remembrance of our founding fathers making a Declaration of Independence from England. This precipitated a formal intent for the colonies to separate themselves from the tyrannical rule of King George III.
You may have heard the somewhat trite Christian saying that, while many in America celebrate independence "we will celebrate our dependence on Jesus." This is where the distinction between patriotism and nationalism matters.
What do these terms mean? [taken from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary]
- patriotism—love for or devotion to one's country
- nationalism—loyalty and devotion to a nation; a national consciousness exalting one nation above all others, and promotion of its culture and interests, as opposed to other nations
As a missionary to other nations, I have a love for my country, but not in disrespect towards other nations. I respect the love others have of their native country.
I appreciate my nation's history, which I've read quite a bit about, and see God's sovereign, gracious hand in the birth of our nation. But my USA citizenship is secondary to my being a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
A lesson from history
Nebuchadnezzar was someone who knew about nationalism, and yet had a life-altering encounter with the One, True, Living God. Here are a two places where this is made clear— Daniel 2:44-45 & Daniel 4:34-37.
He went from the most powerful man on earth to a mindless beast, back to the most powerful emperor who acknowledged the prophet Daniel's God as the One, True, Living God.
He came to realize that the greatness of his powerful empire—Babylon, which gobbled up so many other nations—would be one of a long line of empires overcome by God's sovereign kingdom.
My first allegiance
I celebrate my country's birth and independence this 4th of July weekend with thankfulness for what's made America great. Having traveled many places in the world, I appreciate my native country's many blessings and freedoms, including the 1st Amendment's guarantee of freedoms.
At the same time, I affirm my first allegiance to God—my dependence on Him above all else.
Here are four Scriptures that express my independence from the tyranny of the culture and spiritual darkness of this world—regardless of geographic region or government—and my dependence on God, through my Lord and Savior Jesus—
- Joshua 24:14-15
- Proverbs 1:7 & 9:10
- Proverbs 3:5-6
- Luke 9:23-26
May you know the blessings of dependence on the One, True, and Living God through His Son Jesus Christ, and if you are an American citizen, may you enjoy the rich blessing of the nation whose heritage we celebrate on the 4th of July.
Here are a couple of links related to America's celebration of the 4th of July
These are some excellent books I've read related to the 4th of July