Christians Must Avoid Making Idols of Patriotism and America

Let's face it -- Independence Day is truly a special holiday. It's a wonderful day to spend time with family and friends in the heart of summertime, grilling out, swimming, and watching fireworks. And of course, most of us take time to pause and reflect on what it means to live in a free country. Even the most jaded among us seem to become true believers in patriotism, even for a day.

But now, a couple of days after the 4th, as the red, white, and blue buntings come down and the smell of fireworks finally evaporates from the air, we can take time to reflect on our love of country. And for Christians, I want to challenge you to examine yourself and ask this question: has patriotism become an idol for you?

I'm aware of what a loaded question that is, but the truth is that for too many Christians, America -- and love for the nation -- can become an idol. It's quite easy for believers to allow their patriotism to take a seat above their relationship with God, even temporarily.

The Heidelberg Catechism defines an idolatry as "having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of or alongside of the only true God, who has revealed himself in the Word." So even something otherwise good and worthwhile can turn into an idol if we're not careful to keep our relationship with God above it.

As believers in the one true God, Christians are guaranteed citizenship in heaven -- a kingdom that will last long after this nation ceases to exist. Our home is in an eternal kingdom that will never fade away or change at the whims of a human leader or fall victim to a political process.

We Christians should never lose sight of what it means to be part of a global Church and a kingdom that operates beyond the bounds of time and space. Our primary allegiance is supposed to be toward God and His kingdom, yet we get it wrong so many times. As Russell Moore puts it, believers "often see America as somehow more 'real' than the kingdom, and our country as more important than the church."