The Character of Patriotism is defined as the loyalty and honor of one's nationality. Patriotism, as a character, is the unconditional love for one's native country or country of residence. It is demonstrated as an industrious involvement through allegiance, affection, responsibility, and obligation to help one another, and regarding other countrymen as family. Because we have love and devotion to our country, we then have a willingness to submit to those in authority in it. It is not our thinking that our national culture or interests are superior to any other; rather, we desire to do all we can to strive for social excellence in liberty, truth, justice, and the rights of all as exemplified in the American Constitution and Bill of Rights (Deut. 26:1-11; Judges. 5:1-31; Psalm 51:18; 85:1-13; 122:6-7; 128:1-6; 137:1-6; Isaiah 62:1-3; Jeremiah 9:1-2; Acts 5:28; Romans 13:1-7; Titus; 1 Peter 2:11-17).
Treachery, Apathy, Disloyalty, and Misguided Political Views are the opposites. When we do not seek to get involved in our civic duties and government, we are allowing others who may not have good values or character to be involved as our representatives, and His representatives! Patriotism is not to be superficial "flag-waving" or pride; it is loyalty through diligence and careful involvement.
Patriotism is our social responsibility before God. We are to do our best to run our county and township to the best of our ability when we are in power, and to make sure others do when we are just the citizens. We are to do this even if the leaders do not acknowledge God and/or persecute us! Patriotism is also our communal responsibility in action, as the application of the Character of Good Citizenship. The English word for patriot comes from the Greek root word "pater" that means "father," as one who loves, supports, and has loyalty so as to defend their "fatherland."
Why do we have government and why must we respect it? If it were otherwise, things would be worse and anarchy would result. Modeling goodness and the Fruit of the Spirit in our government, committees, and civic activities is convicting and sometimes contagious. The misdirected leaders will get the message that their ways are not so good, or we can move in with what is good and right. They may fight against us. But, those who lack the best interest for their constituents need good examples and "muses" of character and virtue, especially when they do not have it or have never experienced it. So, who is to do this? You and me! Because we are all sinners, we must be bridled and controlled, hence the need for good government. When we reject government, we placate to our sinful nature, and violate God's order; thus we are rejecting God.
The government's role is the welfare of the society, and it is to our benefit, just as God gave us parents and pastors to honor and respect, to learn from and support it. Because of our sinful nature, people will corrupt and ruin what God ordains for their gain or agendas. Therefore, we must get involved! Yes, there are even times to fight back to fight tyranny, and we should never do what is contrary to the will of God just to obey a government. If the government wants us to kill babies or those who are "infidels," we should fight back and use force when necessary, but as much as possible in the parameters of His Fruit.
Sometimes evil governments are for judgment or chastisement. Our founding fathers in the U.S. struggled over the issue of subjection to tyranny and remaining loyal to England, or proclaiming liberty and freedom and paying the cost for it. England was oppressing and robbing us, and many early Americans, especially Christians, sought to continue to allow it, sighting Romans 13. Other Christians sought to fight using the same passage. Our country was divided then over this issue as we are divided today over recent national elections. Yet, in division, we can have accountability and unity.
The more important issue is not how they treat us, but as Christians, how we respond and treat them! Does this mean we bury our head and ignore government when it gets bad or we do not like it? Absolutely not! Nor are we to become apathetic, as we are called to be involved. This means we are to vote, make our values known, and model Christ, all in love. If the government is exercising laws against God's precepts, we cannot submit. Thus, fight for the rights of the un-born, etc. and get involved. (Remember the Fruit of the Spirit. No argument is won by augmentation in anger; rather it is by logic and example.) If government is of the people and you are a "people," then you are the government. As Christians, we are to make sure governments are fulfilling their proper role and values with involvement, prayer, respect, by being considerate with obedience, and being informed (Jer. chap. 29; 1 Tim 2:1-4).
The objection against Patriotism is that it usually needs pride to make it function. I do not believe this is always so. We may consider working hard and having a healthy dose of confidence as being good Patriotism or good Americans, or from whatever culture we may be. And, to a degree, there is nothing wrong with devotion to our "fatherland" and a healthy, positive outlook of oneself and country as long as it does not elevate one as better or more worthy than another since we all have fallen short…(Rom 3:23). This keeps pride at bay. But, all too often, people miss the evil nature that pride represents. It lifts us up beyond what we are and deserve, and cuts us off from godly character. It also fuels other sins. So, we have to have other characters working to make sure our Patriotism is not pride based, but Christ based.
Is the Character of Patriotism working in you?
Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and fruit of Patriotism from God's most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:
- How do I exhibit good Patriotism in my daily life?
- What can I do to develop a better willingness to pursue being a good Patriot?
- What blocks good Patriotism from working and being exhibited in me?
- How can I make good Patriotism function better, stronger, and faster even in times of uncertainty and stress?
· Here are positive examples from Scripture: Judges chaps. 4-5; 2 Sam. 10:9-12; 11:11; 2 Kings 7:9; Neh. 1:2-11; 2:3; Heb. 11:23-28
· Here are negative examples from Scripture: Judges 5:15-17, 23; 8:4-17; Lam. 5:1-22; 2 Sam. 11:12-17; 2 Kings 7:8
1. How would you define Patriotism?Do you think that Patriotism and Christianity are compatible? Do you think that Jesus would be patriotic if He lived in your country? Why, or why not?
2. What are some things that prevent you from voting or be involved in your city and/or state? Do you feel the call to be engaged in civic activities?
3. How does apathy counteract Patriotism? What about misguided political views? (Do not get drawn into a debate on politics or partisan leadings, as this misses the point of true Patriotism.)
4. What happens to our relationship with God and with others when we refuse to put forth effort or resources for our county?
5. When have you been filled with Patriotism the most?
6. In what situation did you fail to be involved with Patriotism when you should have been?
7. What issue is in your life that would improve with more Patriotism?
8. Think through the steps you need to take to put Patriotism into action in a specific instance, such as being informed of the views, getting out the vote, or helping motivate others to do so.What can your church do, without losing its non-profit status, to get people involved and supportive of good politics? How could this benefit your community and/or nation?
© 2006, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org