Holidays (Other), Mailbag

The Mailbag: Patriotism in Church

 

Every year on the Sunday closest to the 4th of July, our worship service turns very patriotic. All of the hymns and worship songs are replaced with patriotic songs like God Bless America, America the Beautiful, and the National Anthem. The choir and whoever is singing a solo that day sings a patriotic song. A color guard marches in with the American flag and we say the Pledge of Allegiance. Sometimes the sermon is even on a patriotic topic. It makes me uncomfortable because I think the worship service should focus on God, not America. What do you think?

Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. I love the fireworks and picnics, the bands, and watching my favorite musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy.

 

I’m as red, white, and blue, rah rah America as the next guy, but there’s a time and a place for all that, and the Sunday morning worship hour isn’t it. You’re correct. The worship service is exactly that: worship and service. And who are Christians supposed to worship and serve when we go to church? God.

We are to sing to, and about, God. The pastor is to preach the Word of God. We pledge our allegiance in prayer, worship, and confession to God. Our thoughts are to be focused on God. Every element of the worship service – songs, symbols, readings, offerings, prayer, praise, everything – is to draw our attention to God. He is the only One worthy of our worship.

Patriotic songs, the Pledge, and all of those other things can take the focus off God and put it on something lesser. Sometimes God gets pushed aside in favor of what we want to focus on. That’s a very man-centered attitude in the very place and time when everything is supposed to be centered on God.

And really, if you think about the main reason America was founded – freedom of worship – what better way is there to honor our forefathers and celebrate the gift of freedom God has given us than to exercise our First Amendment right to worship God? Certainly, we could use the 4th of July as a reminder to take some time in corporate prayer to express gratitude to God for our country and our liberties and to pray for our country. Scripture tells us to present our requests to God with thanksgiving. We could also dedicate some time to praying for our governmental officials as 1 Timothy 2:1-4 instructs us to do. There’s a biblical, worshipful way to be thankful for the freedoms God has blessed us with and intercede for our country and our governing authorities. And it shouldn’t be limited to one Sunday a year.

But when it comes to patriotic hoopla, we can set aside another time for that and still celebrate with our brothers and sisters in Christ. If your church family wants to celebrate America’s birthday together, that’s great! Have a church-wide cookout on the 4th. Schedule an Independence Day patriotic sing-along or choir pageant. Meet up and head out to the county fireworks show together. Fellowship! Have fun!

But when it’s time to worship, let’s make sure we’re reserving that time for worship of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It’s fine to love America, but let’s demonstrate that we love Christ more by not letting anything take His place in His church.

photo source

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5 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Patriotism in Church”

  1. My former church sang patriotic music too. I guess I got caught up in it because I really enjoyed it. On the flip side the music leader would play that ‘charge!’ Sports tune before services on Sunday before some big sports event. That really annoyed me! I wholeheartedly agree that Sunday service is to honor God and God alone.

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  2. I strongly disagree! Our country was founded on the Bible and godly principles. If it were not for God protecting our country and allowing us to worship Him freely America would look far different and our freedoms would have been taken from us. I love my God and I love my country. They are not equally loved but without one there wouldn’t be the other. We do not have a lot of hoopla on the Sunday where our patriotism runs high. We had a pastor that taught many historical lessons in the sermon and brought us to realize it is only by God’s grace that our free country exists. Our God is exalted as well as our country is held up as a God fearing country in our worship service. If we are not made aware of God’s dealing in the affairs of our country and learn that in our churches, we certainly would not be taught that in our public schools. It is because we have left God out of our schools , government, homes and churches that our nation is in the state of unrest, distrust and godlessness! We need to put God back on the throne and teach our people that truth! Sing about it in our homes, our schools, our government and our above all, our churches. Where better to teach the TRUTH! God bless Our Lord and also, God Bless America. I am glad our President seems to be leading us back that direction!!I’m proud to be. Christian and an American! God bless America!

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    1. Certainly a trained communicator could bring glory to God in appropriate displays of Patriotism without worshiping the nation. God rules in the affairs of men and nations. History, even American history is HIStory. “History, when rightly written, is but a record of providence; and he who would read history rightly, must read it with his eyes constantly fixed on the hand of God.” This statement of a nineteenth-century historian sums up the responsibility of the Christian teacher of history, for “he who would teach history (or any subject matter) rightly, must teach it with his eyes constantly fixed on the hand of God.” Our Creeds and confessions all have an Article on Providence. Perhaps we should dust it off and read it …

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  3. God has a plan for history. History is providential, not accidental. Etymologically, the word providence means “to foresee.” This carries the connotation of forethought or foresight to attain a particular end or goal. What a beautiful picture this is of God’s role in history. His omniscient foresight orders, sustains, and cares for His creation, accomplishing His divine purpose. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).

    Couldn’t this lead to us thanking God for our nation in an appropriate display of HIS Glory through His Providence?

    Ultimately Jesus Christ is at the center of God’s plan for history. He is the focal point of history. “Providence is God’s gracious outworking of His purpose in Christ which issues in His dealings with man.” There is perhaps no greater example of God’s providence in history than is evidenced in the divine preparation of the ancient world for the coming of His Son. Through natural and supernatural means, God directed the course of history over centuries to “””make the world ready” for the Incarnation. God makes no vain preparations. When the time of preparation was completed, “the fulness of the time was come” (Gal. 4:4). It has been said that ancient history was but a preparation for the coming of Christ and that subsequent history is but an anticipation of the return of Christ.

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