How Can an Ordinary Citizen Practice Radical Patriotism?

How Can an Ordinary Citizen Begin to Practice a Radical Patriotism?

Sunday Scripture

I have begun to consider listening to the morning news as a spiritual discipline, a small act of patriotism in which I put the good of our country above my own comfort or preferences. I’ve never been a political animal, but events of the past several years and a fleet of newly minted adults launching from this mother ship called home have grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and forced me to pay attention whether I want to or not.

The question that is unsettling me like the memory of a bad dream is this:

How can an ordinary citizen practice a radical patriotism?

Like any discipline, practice is the right word! We work hard, but never quite arrive. We live in challenging times, but we live in hope, and our lives are under a call to faithfulness.

Viewing a flawed nation led by deeply flawed individuals, G.K. Chesterton asked:  “Can we hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing?”  Can we find grace to “heartily hate” the weak and the ugly about our past and our present, and at the same time “heartily love” all that is well-intentioned and hopeful about our future? (Orthodoxy (Christian Heritage Series), 108-109)

Scripture offers words for lifting up a nation (or even your family!) for God’s blessing, based not in merit, but simply on the basis of God’s hesed, his steadfast love:

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”

Psalm 33:22

Part of working hard at the practice of patriotism is a commitment to pray for our nation. The prophet Jeremiah had this advice for Israelites living in exile: “Seek the peace of the city where [God has] caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7 NKJV).

As we listen to news reports predicting a summer of unrest, and as we absorb accounts of political wrangling and public hubris on every front, will you join me in NOT giving up? Will you commit to staying informed? We can only pray with intelligence when we know what’s at stake.

Lord, on this Independence Day, we ask that your steadfast love would rest upon our nation, not because we have earned it, but because you are merciful. We place all our hope in you for righteousness and justice to reign in our land.
Amen

Wishing you and your family a blessed Independence Day celebration!

Part of working hard at the practice of patriotism is a commitment to pray for our nation.

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55 thoughts on “How Can an Ordinary Citizen Begin to Practice a Radical Patriotism?”

  1. When I watch what’s going on in this broken world, I often hear myself say, ‘Lord have mercy.’

    I can only allow myself small doses of news viewing. It’s all too much.

    But nothing is impossible with God. And therein I find deep peace.

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  2. The Bible says pray for Government so I do. Pray that they have a Godly heart to do right for its citizens, and be led in the right ways in all transactions. Also, my prayer is always for all peoples wherever they may be.

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  3. Yes, I also consider it my responsibility to stay current with what’s happening in our world so I can better know how to act and what to pray for. It doesn’t take long to catch up on the major happenings each morning. It’s always a good thing to pray for our nation!

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  4. Wow, the Chesterton quote is spot on.
    I began paying more attention to the news a couple of years ago, and it has been beneficial in understanding all that is going on around us. I think now my focus needs to turn towards more prayer.

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  5. Michele, this is an absolutely perfect post for Independence Day. We do have to find that perfect balance between our love of our nation and reevaluating the things that are not working so we can implement change and growth. Human beings all the world over have a tainted past. We are a brutal and unforgiving species and progress is slow. But at least there is progress. Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring us!

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

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  6. Michele, I so appreciate your insights here. I was thinking this weekend how much my sons have stretched me as a person. Our pastor spoke this past weekend about being purposeful in praying for the leaders and every aspect of our nation. Now, more than ever, this is a must. Thanks for your insights!

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  7. That Chesterton quote could have been written yesterday. The fact that it has to be decades old gives me hope. Even in his day there were things to hate in his nation, yet also enough to love in order to preserve the nation for a hopeful future. We too watch the news to stay informed and pray for America, our community, and our leaders. Psalm 33:22 is a perfect verse to begin such prayers. Thank you, Michele!

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  8. It’s tempting to be discouraged and just give up, but the Chesterton quote puts it in perspective. Pray and work, and strive for the peace of the “city” in which we live. Renew our hope and revive our land, O Lord!

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  9. This is a wonderful reminder, Michele. To be honest, I have felt conflicted about my nation for a while now: I love it and am beyond grateful that I was born here, while at the same time, being saddened by its many choices since its birth. I have struggled with this for many years now, but as I was reading your post, I was reminded of Jeremiah’s response to Israel’s fall to Babylon: Even though the nation as a whole had ignored and tried to kill him, he was saddened by what they had brought on themselves, because he still loved his nation. Thank you for the reminder to keep on keeping on praying for and loving my nation.

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    1. Great point, Ashley, and furthermore, God gave (through Jeremiah) the exiles the instructions found in Jeremiah 29, to plant gardens and start families, to pray for the good of the nation.
      We are called exiles with good reason!

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  10. I can only take small doses of news, too. I’ve been so burdened for our country. Maybe coming to a place where our only hope is in God isn’t a bad thing. Love your last paragraph–amen, not our deserving or earning, but His mercy.

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  11. Our country is wonderful–but it IS flawed and in need of change. I love it, but I get frustrated with the bigotry and blindness I see all around me. Our country and the people in it are standing in the need of prayer…and so I’ll pray!

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  12. I am not hugely knowledgeable about the issues facing the US, but like many countries it does seem troubled as does the UK. Praying for our nations certainly can’t hurt.
    All of us in England are currently praying hard for a EURO 2020 win in the finals of the soccer tomorrow night 😉
    #MischiefAndMemories

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  13. What a great quote to start your post off with – “Can we hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing?” I can think of so many things this could be applied to. We hope you had a wonderful 4th July. Thank you for joining us #mischiefandmemories

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  14. It has been wonderful to be patriotic over the last few weeks with the football but the fans booing during other teams’ national anthems has been shameful. Patriotism brings out the best and worst… Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories

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  15. In the UK this week we’ve had a really sad reminder of how quickly things turn, three young footballers representing their country and adored while winning and subjected to abuse after missing penalties. So very sad, but hate will not win. Thanks for joining us at #PoCoLo

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  16. The United States of America is unique – established in covenant with Most High God. The United States is a Constitutional Republic – again, a unique thing. My personal opinion is that God gave us a “sneak peek” into His Kingdom . . . people from every tribe and language living harmoniously together. Why? So people from everywhere could come here – freely receive the good news of Jesus and His Kingdom – then take it back to the whole world. Who benefits the most by destroying this nation?

    We now have controlling political parties which are not in total alignment with our constitutional law. God is a God of proper government – not political parties. Read Matthew 23:1-36, listing Jesus pronouncing numerous “woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees.” The reigning political party of that day added so much to the original law the people became enslaved by it. We are instructed to be in the world but not of it. We – the born from above followers of Christ – are to get our directions from King Jesus and bring proper governance to our nation.

    If we saw Jesus whipping the merchants that were defiling the House of God by selling their wares on the front porch, would we truly have sided with Jesus? Would we chastise the King of kings for not being “loving” enough? Would we remind Jesus that Scripture instructs us to obey governing authorities?

    Thank you, Michele, for addressing this topic. Just because people always interfere – i.e. mess up – God’s plans it does not mean His plan is bad or wrong. It is not about us.

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