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.
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.Tweet
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