On July 4th, most Americans celebrate “Independence Day”. Like most, I grew up looking forward to fireworks and cook outs on July 4th. We didn’t talk much about the meaning of the holiday, even though I grew up in the military—often living on base. It wasn’t “Independence Day”, it was simply “July 4th”.
Now I see things a bit differently. We are in a time of “patriotism” which borders on Jingoism, so what I’m about to write will undoubtedly be upsetting to many. So let me be clear. I am a patriot—but not an American patriot. When I accepted Jesus’ right to reign over me as my King, I became a citizen of The Kingdom of Heaven. My patriotism is devotion to the Kingdom—specifically to the King—not later, after I die, but now when I have a chance to live faithfully for my King.
So, how does a citizen of the Kingdom view events rooted in this world—like July 4th? I suggest we have to base our views on what is faithful to the King, not what helps us feel good or fit in with others in this world. To do that, I go to the Bible, because I believe God has inspired the scriptural writings. So consider this.
July 4th, “Independence Day” is the celebration of the declaration of independence of the American colonies from England. It was a rebellion against the King of England. There were, of course, reasons for that rebellion which we could discuss. (If we did, we would find that most of them are mythological—like “if it weren’t for the rebellion, we wouldn’t be free”. As if Canada, New Zealand, Australia—even England itself—are less free than we are.) But those arguments basically all come down to the belief that the end justifies the means. And I doubt that even the people citing these reasons would agree with that belief.
So, what does the Christian (who believes in scripture as God’s Word) think of rebellion? The Bible says rebellion is sin (1 Samuel 15:23; Job 13:23). But some would argue that these are condemnations of rebellion against God. Surely He doesn’t (didn’t) object to rebellion against the corrupt King of England? In the New Testament, we are told to submit to all authorities, including Rome—a regime infinitely more evil than England (Romans 13:1-3). In fact, throughout the early church, even though the authorities often persecuted and killed Christians, there is no record of Christian rebellion against Rome. Why? Because our King taught submission to Rome’s authority (Matthew 22:21).
So, here is the problem for the Christian Patriot. We cannot serve two masters. Either Jesus or America deserves our loyalty. Not both. The American Revolution (notice how we don’t even like to call it what it was—a rebellion?) was sin. So today, how will we respond to a holiday (“holy-day”) proclaimed to celebrate that sin? Will we ignore it? Will we try to excuse it (the end justifies…)? Or will we be honest about it and teach our children that what was done was wrong by God’s standards—and it is God, not America, who deserves our allegiance?
Think it doesn’t matter? Much ado about nothing? Look at what is being done today in the name of the “end”. Is it possible that what we celebrate betrays what we really believe is important? If we are Christian patriots, let us turn away from selective loyalty that values the world over the Word of God.
One last thing to all of my fellow Kingdom citizens. If you disagree, be honest with yourselves enough to do it on the basis of Scripture–not how you feel, or what you think. And regardless of whether you agree with what I have written or not, do not make the mistake of believing that we have been given an exemption from Jesus’ command to love. In this way, we celebrate our loyalty to our King.