In a recent episode of his podcast called Ask Pastor John, theologian and pastor John Piper challenged Christians not to amplify patriotism in their lives over their loyalty to Christ.
Piper, who is the founder of “Desiring God,” offered his take on patriotism after a listener named Matt asked him if there was room for patriotism in a Christian’s life.
“Obviously, as Christians, we are to live as strangers, exiles, aliens, and pilgrims on this earth. Is there an appropriate place in the Christian life to be patriotic? If so, what is it? And at what point does our patriotism go too far?” Matt asked Piper.
Piper responded saying, “yes, I think there is [room for patriotism] and I think it’s right, or at least it can be right and good.”
But, “it is true that we need to stress it at the beginning, maybe stress it at the end, we are pilgrims here, we are exiles, refugees, sojourners,” Piper said citing Peter from the Bible.
Then citing Paul, the Reformed pastor reminded believers that they are “citizens of heaven” who will spend eternity in a “created world — in fact, this created world, renewed and cleansed” in which Satan will no longer be a part of.
Piper then goes on to define patriotism as “a kind of love for the fatherland” or the love of one’s country, city, state, country or tribe. He adds that he believes that the Word of God affirms patriotism as “special affections” alongside loving one another.
“For example, Paul says in Galatians 6:10, ‘As we have the opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith,’” explained Piper.
“So it’s as though there is this specialness about those who are close to you and like you. There is a kind of affection for them that’s different,” he added.
While Piper says that God wants us to feel good about our skin color, language and culture, Christians should not give them “absolute allegiance.”
“They’re all sinful, and so we never give them absolute allegiance,” Piper asserted. “We never cease to be exiles and sojourners, even in our families and tribes and ethnicities — indeed, in our own bodies.”
Piper then noted that people can love their country “without putting down other nations or cultures” as the world is interdependent.
“You probably will fail to love your country if you fail to work for the good of other countries as well; we’re just too interdependent for that not to be true,” he asserted.
Ultimately, Piper stressed that believers’ love for the church transcends patriotism because they are one in Christ.
“Never feel more attached to your fatherland or your tribe or your family or your ethnicity than you do to the people of Christ,” he shared. “Everyone who is in Christ is more closely and permanently united to others in Christ, no matter the other associations, than we are to our nearest fellow citizen or party member or brother or sister or spouse.”
“In the end, Christ has relativized all human allegiances, all human loves. Keeping Christ supreme in our affections makes all our lesser loves better, not worse.” Piper said at the close of the episode.
“Under his flag, it is right to be thankful to God that we have a fatherland, a tribe, a family, an old pair of slippers that just fit right,” he concluded.
Photo courtesy: John Piper Facebook
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.