God and Country – Hope 103.2

God and Country

There is nothing at all wrong with loving one’s country. This is patriotism. We can be thankful for our nation and prayerfully seek God’s best for it. However, such patriotism can drift into a strident nationalism that can confuse love of God with love of country.

By David ReayWednesday 22 Aug 2018LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 2 minutes

Read Mark 12:13-15

13-15a Later they sent some of the Pharisees and some of the Herod-party to trap him in an argument. They came up and said to him, “Master, we know that you are an honest man and that you are not swayed by men’s opinion of you. Obviously you don’t care for human approval but teach the way of God with the strictest regard for truth—is it right to pay tribute to Caesar or not: are we to pay or not to pay?”

15b But Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, “Why try this trick on me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” 16 So they brought one to him. “Whose face is this?” asked Jesus, “and whose name is in the inscription?” 17 “Caesar’s,” they replied. And Jesus said, “Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God!”—a reply which staggered them. (JBP)


Some of us grew up in an era where we made a weekly schoolyard pledge to honour our queen and country and to salute the flag. Some wistfully long for a return to such days; others reckon it is sentimental nonsense.

There is nothing at all wrong with loving one’s country. This is patriotism. We can be thankful for our nation and prayerfully seek God’s best for it. However, such patriotism can drift into a strident nationalism that can confuse love of God with love of country. In Jesus’ terms, we give ‘Caesar’ what belongs to God alone.

An American Christian theologian Roger Olson makes these comments:

Patriotism is love for one’s country without blinders about its flaws and defects. Patriotism seeks to actualize the highest and best ideals of one’s country which can sometimes look like disloyalty to nationalists. Nationalists tend to confuse ‘country’ with ‘government’ and reject as disloyal all criticism of either. However, criticism of the government can be patriotic.

Patriotism looks to the future and hopes for and works toward the country’s achievement of its ideals. Nationalism looks to the past and defends everything the country has ever done as necessarily good and right just because the country did it.

Let’s aim to be godly patriots rather than prideful nationalists.

Blessings
David Reay

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