Should Christians Be Patriotic?
By Andy Im.
In the United States there’s an intensifying movement towards nationalism, defined by one dictionary as “patriotic feelings, principles, or efforts marked by feelings of superiority over other countries.” Nationalism, in its extreme form, led Nazi Germany to consider themselves greater than other nations, a doctrine that contributed, in part, to the Second World War.
Nationalism, the notion that we’re better than others because of the country or race we belong to must be rejected because it’s frankly, unbiblical. In addition, nationalism finds it impetus in the intrinsic desire of human beings to regard themselves as superior to others. This, the Bible unequivocally condemns as wrong.
As Christians we must be ever careful not to get caught up in the blind patriotism of the day. We must be mindful that our citizenship–in the truest sense–does not belong to the United States or any country for that matter. Even the race we’re born into shouldn’t constitute our primary identity—or the basis of our ego and pride. I cringe when I hear fellow countrymen speak of “Korean pride.”
Christians are urged by the apostle Paul not to put “confidence in the flesh” (Phil 3:3) and to esteem others “more significant than [ourselves]” (Phil 2:3). The apostle had reason to boast of his upbringing, his cultural heritage, national identity, and racial makeup (3:4-6), but he made an intentional decision to forsake those things and “suffer loss,” because for him those things were “dudu” (vs. 8).
And let’s not forget why Lucifer became the devil. He succumbed to pride because he had reasons to be proud; his wisdom became corrupted because he had splendor worth boasting about (Ezek 28:17). He allowed his talents, abilities, and status—to get to his head, much like we allow our looks, status, and pedigrees to inflate our own.
As sinful, fallen human beings our affiliations to certain national identities, socio-economic status, education, and race will continue to serve as stumbling blocks to our moral character and Christendom in general. I’m not saying these things are inherently evil; however, our constructed categories and affiliations are often manipulated by our sinful natures by the religious and secular alike. This is especially dangerous for Christians because we justify this phenomenon on the basis of our status as Christians.
In closing, Seventh-day Adventists should make a concerted effort to refrain from the current exceptionalistic attitudes that are taking place at the individual, national, and international levels. We may have been born with much to boast about, but let us follow the example of Jesus. Though He was “in the form of God” and “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped…[He] made Himself nothing,” and “humbled Himself…to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8).