Last Sunday, my sermon title was “Faithful Patriotism.” I included a quote from the movie The American President (1995), which stars Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepherd. He says this during a televised speech: “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ‘cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”
On Independence Day, we celebrate the American Revolution. Those of us of a certain age remember the logo in 1976 which marked the bicentennial of the revolution. (I was 11 years old on that particular July 4th.)
For people of faith—and certainly for Christians—too often the love of country gets confused with the love of God. We too easily equate those things. In my sermon, I also quote Dan Clendenin: For those who love and serve a Lord encompassing all space and time, it’s hard to claim “that God loves your own country more than…other countries.” It’s difficult to go along with “confusing and conflating God’s loves with national values, and invoking God’s wrath against your enemies.” It’s not easy to settle for a God who is that small and spiteful.
Can we foster a patriotism that celebrates the truly great things about America? Can we work for a patriotism that doesn’t simply shout, “U-S-A!” at every turn, but rather works for more creative and faithful ways of making decisions than with the tired old methods of threats and war?
That’s the path to a real revolution!
(The lower image is from www.goddiscussion.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/patriotism.jpg)