July 2021

July 2021

Christian Patriotism?

This year, the Fourth of July falls on a Sunday. That’s exciting for me, because I’ve always loved Independence Day, and I’m looking forward to gathering with my brothers and sisters in Christ on the day that we commemorate the founding of our wonderful nation. I’m a patriotic guy, and it’s been clear to me from my earliest days at Holy Cross that ours is a patriotic congregation!

But do you ever wonder about just how patriotic we should be? I’m not talking about those who try to turn us against our own country by pointing out its flaws—some real, some imagined. In terms of earthly life, we have no reason to be ashamed of our country, and every reason to be proud to be Americans. No, I’m talking about the tension between our two citizenships. We are citizens of the United States of America, but we’re also citizens of heaven. Can the two go together?

St. Paul tells us, “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). These divine sayings tell us where our first loyalties are and ever shall be. We are first and foremost citizens of heaven, and that does not change whether we are American citizens, British subjects, primitive tribesmen, or anything else, as long as we believe in Jesus and are thus members of His Church, His kingdom. In the event of a conflict between our earthly citizenship and our heavenly citizenship, our heavenly citizenship must take first place no matter what, even unto death.

But does that mean we have no earthly citizenship? Does that mean we cannot love our county and be Christian patriots?

Certainly not!

Since Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, while we are still in the world, that means we have one foot in this life and one foot in the life to come. We do still live on this earth, and we do still have earthly relationships that we prize. We still have earthly responsibilities, earthly commitments, and earthly loyalties. In fact, Jesus’ statement that His kingdom is not of this world frees us to regard ourselves as citizens of earthly kingdoms insofar as we ourselves are still earthly.

I am an American citizen. I was born into this country. It is my country, and nothing can change that. It’s the country God gave me, and it’s the county to which I am given by God. It is good and right that, as a Christian, I should prove myself loyally devoted to the country in which God has granted me to live and thrive and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

This Fourth of July, let’s give thanks with a good conscience for the beautiful, just, and free country that God has given us. Let’s pray for our country’s wellbeing and commit to laboring for its founding ideals to flourish. And let’s do this knowing that our prayers for our earthly country are heard because we are first and foremost members of our heavenly country: the kingdom of God, prepared for us from before the foundation of the world.

God's Blessings!

Pastor Neuendorf