Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash
I love fireworks. And so does my daughter.
Over the next couple of days we will try to steal as much time as possible to see fireworks.
The question emerges from people who feel torn: Torn between the brokenness of our history and culture and gratitude for any number of joys and blessings that attend to life in a free democratic republic.
I feel this too.
Let me cut to the chase: Yes, you can love your country. As long as that love is properly ordered, and as long as that love isn’t a blind loyalty.
I love fireworks, but my love for fireworks is different from my love for my dear friends. My love for my dear friends is different from the love I have for my daughter and wife. The love I have for my daughter and wife is different from the love I have for God.
My loves have an order. Scripture says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
Our love for God transcends and is the basis of any other love. And this includes “big” loves and “small” loves. The love of God isn’t just the basis of my love for my wife or daughter or friend, but for fireworks, fajitas, and boxing. And yes, this would include love of where you live.
The second reality is that our love for country should be a genuine love, meaning it should be discerning and wise, not blind in loyalty. If our love for country is merely a civic puppy love, we will never engage in the real act of love by celebrating what is good AND challenging/confronting that which is not good.
In the characteristics of true love we find in 1 Corinthians 13, we find in that list this condition of true love: “...love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
This should be a feature of all of our rightly ordered loves. We should engage in the kind of true love that is truthful not only in our celebration, but also in our confrontation.
Two years ago, in July of 2020, I wrote the following in a blog for Mosaic:
“I am grateful to live where I live. I love Richardson deeply and I measure other cities by the unique love I have for this one. I am grateful to be a Texan. I truly love the natural beauty and cultural diversity of this great state. And I am grateful to be a citizen of the USA. I want it to be radically shaped by the good news of Christ Jesus, our King.
On July 4th, I will thank God for where he has placed me, I will pray for the leaders of this country, and I will beg him to bring revival to the people of God—His church—in America so that we may be people embedded in the gospel story, marked by the gifts and fruit of the Spirit, and a people of salt and light in a bland and dark world.”
I still believe this. As Christians, we live as dual citizens: Citizens of the kingdom of heaven before citizens of any other place.
May God give us grateful hearts for the blessings of where he has placed and prayerful hearts that his will would be done here as it is in heaven.