Is Patriotism Good For The World? (Sermon Notes)
"Is Patriotism Good For The World?"
Pastor Kyle McMullen, May 26th, 2019
INTRO: WHY PREACH ABOUT PATRIOTISM?
(because we need to blow up the “sacred-secular divide”)
- “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” - Psalm 24:1
- It’s the idea that certain things are sacred, certain things are secular, and we need to keep those things separated. All of life, though it can be wrongly perverted, is intrinsically sacred.
- If we succumb to the false idea of the sacred-secular divide, we live a divided life.
Patriotism, rightly defined, is love and devotion to your country.
THE NEWLY FASHIONABLE ANTI-PATRIOTISM
(it’s ingratitude, justifying itself through religiosity, disguised as piety)
- Argument Against Partriotism: “Patriotism can lead to idolatry. Christians should be devoted to the Kingdom of God above all, therefore there is no room for American patriotism because you’ll compromise your allegiance to Jesus.” It is a false dichotomy to conclude that Christians should be anti-patriotic. (ie work, marriage)
- Ex. of Ingratitude: Israelites in the Old Testament.
- The cycle: God provides, God delivers, happy for 5 minutes, and then complain and whine. We need to guard against falling into this cycle in our lives, and not just regarding the amazing freedoms and blessings we have in America, but in all of life.
- “If uncritical lovers of their country are the most dangerous of patriots, loveless critics are hardly the best. If you love the good you have to hate evil, else you’re sentimental; but if you hate evil more than you love the good, you’re a good hater.” - William Sloane Coffin
- “The use of fashions in thought is to distract men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is in the least danger, and fix its approval on the virtue that is nearest the vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them all running around with fire extinguishers whenever there’s a flood.” - C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters
PATRIOTISM IS GOOD FOR THE WORLD
(because it’s loving to God and loving to people)
Loving America, and being devoted to America’s well-being is loving to God for two reasons:
Nations are God’s Idea
- In Genesis 1, God creates humanity, instructs us to fill the earth and subdue it.
- This command is repeated to Noah in Genesis 9. God says “Fill the earth.”
- Then in Genesis 11, the Tower of Babel. God scatters… creates “nations”.
- “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Rom. 13:1-2)
The example of Jesus and Paul
- Jesus compassionately weeps over Jerusalem, displaying his deep sorrow that his own people could not see the salvation he came to offer (Matthew 23:37-39).
- Paul follows suit, writing that he wishes he could substitute himself for his fellow Jews so that they could accept Christ (Romans 9:1-5).
- We are rehearsing for our eternal citizenship in God’s Kingdom by the way we practice citizenship in the earthly country we call home. As Christian Americans, we demonstrate appreciation & love for God by loving America & seeking her well-being.
Patriotism is loving toward people for the following reason:
God designed us to belong
- God designs us to belong to Him (Genesis 1:26); God designs us to belong to a family, spouse, children, parents, siblings (Genesis 1:24, Ephesians 6:1-4, 1 Timothy 5:8); God designs us to belong to a country (Romans 13).
- The best way we can practically love our neighbor is by correctly prioritizing our belonging.
PRACTICING PATRIOTISM - The Golden Triangle of Freedom (Os Guinness)
FREEDOM REQUIRES VIRTUE
- Without virtue freedom is not true freedom. Virtue is not just rule-keeping, it’s character.
- “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal. 5:13-14)
Living in the present vs. living in the moment
- Living in the moment says, “Only this moment matters.” Living in the present says, “Every moment matters.” When you live in the present, you do what is right. When you live in the moment, you do what you feel. To be people of freedom, we need virtue, and to discover virtue we have to relearn the art of living in the present, where every moment matters.
VIRTUE REQUIRES FAITH
- Virtue can’t survive alone or materialize out of thin air. Virtue is the fruit on the tree of faith.
- The reason virtue is in jeopardy in our culture is because we have chipped away at the foundation of faith. (Example of TV sitcoms - used to attempt to teach virtue, then no virtue)
- “In Jesus Christ, you are all children of God through faith.” (Gal. 3:26)
- Gospel: We don’t bring God all of our virtues & ask him to accept us on the basis of how good we have been. Rather, we bring God all our vices, all of our sin, all of our regrets and failures. We put our faith in Jesus & he begins forming his virtue in us…our faith forms our virtue.
FAITH REQUIRES FREEDOM
- Faith cannot be coerced or mandated by a state religion. Neither can it be abolished by state persecution. Real faith is the free choice of the individual human being standing before God.
- “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1)
- The hallmark of American Christianity has been an emphasis on the need for each individual to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- American love of freedom is a borrowed idea from Christianity.
- Ex. in early American History (1700s) - George Whitfield
Freedom is still available today because its price has been paid and its enemies defeated.
Getting to Know Me
- Using Kyle’s definition, patriotism is love of and devotion to your country. On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your level of patriotism?
- How do you plan to celebrate July 4? How would you like to celebrate it?
Into the Bible
Read Jeremiah 29:4-7.
- How is our situation different from that of the Jews to whom this message was addressed? [exiles = not there by choice, very little freedom, Jewish religion mostly not tolerated in Babylon]
- What did God say their attitude should be toward their new cities?
- How should this passage inform our attitude toward our “city”? What would that look like practically?
- What was your main takeaway from Pastor Kyle's sermon? How were you impacted/encouraged? Did you have an “ah-ha” moment or realize something new for the first time?
- Kyle used a phrase “sacred / secular divide.” How does sorting things into sacred or secular fit with Psalm 24:1?
- Kyle talked about the possibility of our country becoming an idol. What might that look like? What’s the difference between appropriate gratitude for our country and starting to make it an idol?
- Where have you stumbled over ingratitude & complaining? (Like the OT Israelites in the wilderness!) Share some examples of instances where have you started to collect reasons to justify ingratitude? What do you need to do instead?
- What does “living in the present” mean versus “living in the moment?” What do you think of the idea? How should this concept change how we live?
- What is one action step to take, and one prayer to pray, in response to this sermon?