Friday, August 10, 2018

Patriotism vs. Nationalism

I grew up in a patriotic home. We loved our country. With grandparents who had fought in World War II, the greatest generation taught our parents respect for the flag and “the republic for which it stands.” They in turn passed that on to us.

This disposition toward country flourished in a church that was in no way exclusive to the U. S. of A., but had both domestic and foreign missions efforts. That thriving church that founded Awana was also instrumental in founding and recruiting for New Tribes Mission, now Ethnos360, an organization dedicated to doing as Jesus said, to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19), and “you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

There is nothing about the love of Jesus that is exclusive to one country. Neither does loving one's country mean that one cannot also love other people in other countries. One can both be grateful for what God has given in the land of one's birth or adopted country, and also see all people in every land and nation as created in the image of God and needing to hear the Good News of Jesus.

One other note on patriotism: While God has created all men equal, not all governments are equal. Some governments recognize the inherent desire for freedom in the spirit of man, and others do not. The 20th Century saw a great contrast between a flourishing nation built on and expanding on principles of freedom, and other nations under the oppressive and encroaching regimes of communism around the world. The contrast was stark and clear, and to love this country was to be grateful to be alive and free.

Nationalism is very different. Nationalism is to love one's country to the exclusion of others. That attitude indeed sets up hostility to a Gospel for all nations. That is not the patriotism I knew growing up, nor that I embrace today.

There are some in evangelical circles particularly in the missions (or missional) movement who, in seeking to turn away from nationalism, have instead embraced globalism. On the one hand, this is a correct rejection of the exclusive nature of nationalism. On the other hand, this incorrectly goes too far toward rejecting national boundaries. Having an international focus is indeed appropriate and recognizes the authorities God has set up and under which one lives (even if civil disobedience is appropriate at times). There's a difference.

Globalism requires an unnecessary rejection of one's home country. Even Jesus loved his homeland, as I once heard Steve Brown point out. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34; Matthew 23:37).

Globalism is also a path to destruction. That's not a statement about trade. That's a statement about prophecy that specifically tells of a time still to come when there will be a one-world government over a cashless society. Anyone who rejects this ruler and refuses to participate in his regime faces death. Anyone who worships this ruler and participates in his system faces eternal death.

I pray for people not to be ensnared in this trap to come. I pray that people who seek to bring people to the Savior, Jesus, would not use language that could inadvertently drive them toward their own destruction instead.

America has been beacon of light to the nations with the Gospel for generations. I'm grateful, in Jesus' name, this has been the case, and I pray this continues.

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