By Alex Landry
How should Christians approach the subject of patriotism? This is the key question that we discussed at a recent New Wine Table Talk. We are called to be both citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20) and citizens of nations here on earth (Rom 13:1). However, at times the ideals of these two forms of citizenship clash and we are left with a choice as to how to conduct our lives. This is not an easy question.
One issue that arises is that Christians often do not understand how our cultural values are at odds with Biblical values. We are often like fish swimming in water but are unaware of what water is. One solution to fix this problem is to have meaningful dialogue with Christians from other cultures about the Bible. At first, this will be shocking to some because Christians from other cultures do not always come to the same conclusions as Christians here in the States. The fact that they do not come to the same conclusions may lead us to think wrongly that their ideas must be unbiblical when they differ from our perspectives. In fact, they may be more biblical than we are at times! Conversations like these can expose the ways that we read our own cultures into the biblical text. Whether it be something like the pursuit of the American dream or our support of a certain political party that we consider “Christian”, a simple conversation with Christians from different cultures can expose that these ideals that we as Christians in the West hold are in fact not always biblical, but possibly abiblical or even unbiblical.
Conversations with Christians from several different cultures can help us discern how to make sure we are not being idolatrous in our allegiance as citizens of various nation states. As we come to terms with other cultural perspectives, hopefully we will realize that while we are to be good citizens of our various countries here below, we will subject such allegiance to our primary allegiance to Jesus’ kingdom.