Today’s article is a little bit more serious in nature, but in light of the recent holiday is a good topic to discuss, so let’s get right to it.
I grew up in a red-white-and-blue-flag-waving family! My parents taught me to respect the flag and to honor the heritage of our country. Saluting our flag, singing America’s songs, praying for our nation’s leaders, and thanking God for our freedom are all habits that I carry to this day. But not everyone believes that way. For example, there is a cult (a false religion based on someone’s teaching) that believes “their allegiance belongs to God’s Kingdom. They refrain from saluting the flag of any country or singing nationalistic songs, which they believe are forms of worship.”
While some Christians are inclined to minimize their patriotic fervor, this is really a big mistake; and I am reminded of three principles that will help us maintain a healthy love for God and country.
- Focus on Gratitude
This past Monday, our nation celebrated Memorial Day. While the exact celebration of this holiday widely varies, the purpose of it remains clear. To remember (with gratitude) those who paid the ultimate price to preserve our freedoms.
Jesus reminded us that the depth of a person’s love is demonstrated in his willingness to give his life. He said: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
I believe that God wants his people to be a grateful people, and it’s impossible to be grateful unless we remember.
Remember what? We are to remember the individuals that gave their lives, and the reasons they did so.
President Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg Address, spoke to this idea when he said: “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that this government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.”
Particularly in the USA, we can also be grateful for God’s hand upon our nation. While our nation’s history is dotted with both heroes of the faith, and those who hindered the faith, we can learn something from both. We can learn to remember that ultimately, God uses people to carry out His plans here on earth.
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” (Proverbs 21:1-2)
The last aspect of gratitude is that we ought to be grateful for the people that have prayed and wept for America. “Time would fail me to tell of…” the many people who took risks, stood boldly, and followed God confidently. For these, we can be grateful.
- Focus on Celebrating Freedom
I once heard someone say, that “freedom is not just doing what we want to do. Freedom is living according to God’s purpose.”
I really like that explanation of freedom. Out of all the countries in the world, we in the United States are afforded the most freedom. Particularly for the American Christian, our freedoms give us the opportunity to witness boldly, worship freely, and preach Biblical truth. Here’s a quick list:
- We have the freedom to preach the Bible.
- We have the freedom to assemble and worship.
- We have the freedom for parents to train their children.
- We have the freedom to pray.
- We have the freedom to serve.
These are just a few of the many freedoms that our founding fathers gave us as a nation; and while ungodly people may seek to take those freedoms away, we can be thankful that God (for the time being) has allowed our country to stand as the land of the free and the home of the brave.
- Focus on Responsibility and Duty
You might be thinking, “What is my most important duty?” The Bible makes this pretty clear.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
Our responsibility is to do what the Lord has called us to do!
I’ve heard it said many times, and I pass it on to you. It is vitally important that you follow the Lord wherever He wants you to go. God needs willing teenagers to step up and serve Him in many different areas, including serving in government, “secular” vocations, and especially in ministry positions (pastor, christian school teacher, missionary). Listen for His voice, and follow Him.
So, yes, go ahead and wave the flag. It’s a good thing. Let it remind you of the many freedoms God has blessed us with. While doing so, remember to take advantage of those freedoms. A love of country will drive us to pray for our nation, to witness fervently, and ultimately to see people get saved as a result of our dedication to the cause of Christ!