COVER STORY – PATRIOTISM
I urge, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
(1 Timonthy 2:1-4 NIV84)
“A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.” This is a dictionary definition for the word patriot. Do you think of yourself as one who falls into this category? Perhaps not. When you hear the word patriot your thoughts may turn to American heroes like Paul Revere, who made his daring midnight ride to warn the colonial militia about approaching British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord. Or men like Patrick Henry, the American orator, known for his fiery declaration before the Second Virginia Convention: “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Those men were patriots. But me? I don’t think so.
Think about it
When you think about it more carefully, though, can you see that, as a believer in the Lord Jesus, you are in a position to serve your country as a patriot in the highest sense? You understand, don’t you, that history is not ruled by happenstance, but by your almighty Savior, Who has determined the pre-appointed times and boundaries of the nations. This being true, you may approach His throne of grace, imploring Him to bless your nation with wise leaders who will govern the citizens of your nation well. Martin Luther once remarked that, next to the Gospel, no more precious possession exists on earth than a government that administers and upholds justice. He included “good government” in the list of the daily bread items we should pray for in the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. Luther was right to so encourage us, for who but children of the heavenly Father can offer prayers that are heard and answered for Jesus’ sake, including the requests we make for our country’s leaders?
Another way you may show patriotic devotion for your country is by prayerfully seeking to let your light shine in your conduct as a citizen. When you show respect for the governing authorities, submitting to them because you recognize each of them as “God’s servant to do you good” (Romans 13:4) and obeying the laws of the land for conscience’ sake, know that He will use your example of godliness and piety as a salt to help preserve our society from moral decay (Matthew 5:13).
The greatest act of devotion you can perform for your country is keeping your eyes open for opportunities to share the saving truth of the Gospel (1 Peter 3:15). As you speak to others in your sphere of life about the hope God has given you in Jesus, you may rejoice to know He will use your witness as a tool to lead others to trust in Him as you do, to know the peace of sins forgiven as you do, and to enjoy all the precious benefits that come from being a citizen of the better, heavenly country (Hebrews 11:16).
Do you see yourself
as a patriot?
By the grace of God, you surely may! As you commemorate the July 4th holiday (viewing a fireworks display? watching a parade? enjoying a backyard cook-out?), set aside a moment to ask the Lord to help you to serve Him in this way. Pray that through your witness as a Christian citizen, more souls may be gathered into His family and become part of the glorious band out of every nation who will one day stand before His throne, dressed in white, shouting joyfully, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever.” (Revelation 7:10,12)
Thomas Schuetze is pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado.