(#4 in Series)
Patriotism vs. Evangelism
It must have been there all along, only lying inactive and unused. It must have already been there in order to come alive so quickly and so forcefully. Patriotism must have been in us and our fellow Americans, but was perhaps put in the closet of our minds because we had so much else to do. We never quit treasuring our country, but the burning desire to publicly declare our national pride was put on the shelf of our hearts and quietly gathered dust UNTIL . . . until it was reawakened by an attack on our soil against our countrymen.
Now, American flags whop in the wind above vehicles of every sort. Billboards cry out “UNITED WE STAND” upon a backdrop of red, white, and blue. The men and women serving in our nation’s law enforcement and armed services are once again our heroes; and children who once aspired to be computer programmers now talk about being fire-fighters and Army Rangers.
One dramatic, horrific, and deadly attack has awakened a whole nation and re-inspired her citizens with a loyalty to their country that has been largely absent for many years. We’re different now. We now have something for which to fight. The honor of our country has been challenged, and we’re ready to defend it!
One has to believe that those outside of America are now seeing evidence of just how much we treasure our freedom and our richly blessed land–whereas earlier there may have been some doubt in their minds. Such is the nature of American patriotism!
As wonderfully blessed as we are to live in the United States, God reminds us that we are citizens of a better, heavenly country. “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Heaven’s citizens practice a patriotism that is better known as evangelism.
Patriotism is “being a patriot.” Evangelism is “being an evangelist,” and an evangelist is, literally, “a good news spreader.” Therefore we do the work of an evangelist and declare our “Christian Patriotism” when we declare and share the good news of salvation through Christ Jesus.
In patriotism we declare our love for our country and our willingness to serve the country and our fellow citizens. In evangelism we declare our love for our heavenly country and the Savior who makes citizens of the kingdom of heaven. In evangelism we declare our willingness to serve our Savior and our fellow sinners.
It took a ferocious attack on America to rekindle patriotism. Yet day after day Satan and his armies are unleashing even greater attacks with even more significance . . . and the world hardly notices. But we wouldn’t really expect the world to notice the attacks of Satan and his wicked army, because the sinful world and its sinful ways are part of Satan’s forces.
As wicked and dangerous as terrorists against America may be, those who seek to destroy our citizenship in heaven are even more dangerous. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Our citizenship in heaven is under daily attack! The honor of our Lord and Savior is challenged daily! Good Christians, arise to evangelism!
It falls upon us who are citizens of the heavenly country to sound the warnings of evil to our fellow sinners. It falls upon us to declare God’s truth in order to expose lies and false philosophies of the world (Colossians 2:8). The blessed privilege of showing that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life–and thereby bringing others into citizenship with Christ–falls upon us who are already part of Christ’s kingdom.
Patriotism had grown dull in the peaceful prosperity of our country. Now it is awakened . . . fresh . . . vibrant once again. In the face of a daily need for the gospel among ourselves and among everyone we meet, have we maintained an awake . . . fresh . . . vibrant declaration of our love for Christ?
Now in the aftermath of September 11th God is providing a wide-open door of opportunity for you to be active in evangelism. There are many people who are filled with fear because of the attack. They are your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors. You’ve joined with them in “American Pride”; now also comfort them with the comfort with which you yourselves have been comforted by God (cf: 2 Corinthians 1:4).
There are many people who are confused, doubtful, and in a state of turmoil, because their lives all of a sudden seem so uncertain and are filled with so many questions. These are your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, the people you meet. You have the answers to remove uncertainty. People you meet are now ready perhaps to hear the good news of Christ in a way they haven’t been for a very long time! “Walk in wisdom toward those who are on the outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:5-6).
From the Moslems in Afghanistan to the unbelieving neighbor down the street . . . from the well-respected businessman to the terrorist who takes many lives . . . from our fellow Christians to our own selves . . . We all need the gospel! We all need to hear the good news that active evangelism brings!
Oh, that the Lord would rouse in our hearts a love for our Savior that erupts into an evangelism evident to all around us!
May our zeal to help the heathen
Be increased from day to day
As we plead in true compassion
And for their conversion pray. . . .
Savior, shine in all Thy glory
On the nations near and far;
From the highways and the byways
Call them, O Thou Morning Star.
Guide them whom Thy grace hath chosen
Out of Satan's dreadful thrall
To the mansions of Thy Father--
There is room for sinners all!
[TLH #498, st. 5a, 6]
–Pastor Wayne Eichstadt