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Love Doesn’t Stop at the Border: The Problem with Patriotism

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Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne

I’m not American, but due to the enormous cultural impact US imperialism has brought unto the rest of the world, their national day is one of the few that I actually know the date of other than the national day of my own country. Today’s that day, and according to my WordPress statistics, many of you who are reading this blog live in the United States. I have a challenge for you: before you wave the banner of your empire and enjoy billions of dollars being blown up in fireworks, pray that God will help you love all people, including all those harmed by American consumerism, militarism and racism, and that He will help you pledge allegiance to His Kingdom first and foremost. After all, Scripture says that we are foreigners and strangers on earth (Hebr 11:13) and that we are citizens in Heaven (Phil 3:20). We are called to love all people as ourselves (Lk 10:25-37) and while the early Christians didn’t revolt against the Roman empire, they were known for pledging allegiance to another king than the emperor, namely Christ (Acts 17:7). I think Shane Claiborne nails it in his altar call on Red Letter Christians about celebrating interdependence day rather than independence day:

Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of us all being bound up in an “inescapable web of mutuality.” He talked of how we have encountered half the world by the time we have put on our clothes, brushed our teeth, drunk our coffee and eaten our breakfast, as there are invisible faces that make our lives possible every day. That’s why I’ve always struggled with “Independence Day.” Patriotism can be a dangerous thing if it leads to amnesia about the dark patches of our nation’s history. And it can leave us shortsighted if our nationalism prevents us from seeing pain or hope beyond our borders. As an American, and especially as a Christian, I am convinced that a love for our own people is not a bad thing, but love doesn’t stop at borders. Love is infinitely boundless and all about holy trespassing and offensive friendships. We are taught to celebrate independence. But independence and individualism have come at a great price. In the wealthy and industrialized countries we have become the richest people in the world, but we also have some of the highest rates of loneliness, depression, and suicide. We are rich, sad, and lonely. We are living into patterns that not only leave much of the world hungry for bread and starved for justice but also leave us longing for the good life and for meaning and purpose beyond ourselves. The good news is that we are not alone in the world. This year, let’s celebrate Interdependence Day — recognizing the fact that we are part of a global neighborhood. Let’s appreciate all the invisible people in our lives, and let’s lament the fact that the human family is terribly dysfunctional. It’s not about being anti-American but about being pro-world. It’s a beautiful thing to realize that we need each other and that we are not alone in the world.

Amen to that! I do not celebrate and praise the state i was born in any more than I celebrate and praise my house or bedroom; but I do celebrate and praise the God who has created me, and I pray that my American friends will refocus their loyalty to him rather than to their flag.

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4 Comments

  1. Rick says:

    Your view is a little naive. If not for the US, all of Europe would be gobbled up by Russia, China, and muslims. You are complaining about the 5% downside instead of being grateful for the 95% upside of the efforts of the US. The US is the most benevolent world leader ever known. The US fought Kuwait’s war in 1991 for Kuwait….and got nothing in return….no oil and no money. Who does that? Where are your complaints about Russia, China, and muslims? Do you want them in charge instead of the the US?

  2. Rick says:

    One more thing. “America needs to refocus… .” Are you kidding?
    The churches of Europe are empty. The US is the most Christian country
    left on earth…but slipping away. Perhaps Sweden needs to refocus.
    Aren’t there are enough Christian problems in Sweden? You are ripping
    your only protector. And to repeat….but no ripping of Russia, China, or muslims.

    • Rex says:

      First I will agree that the US is like Walmart, McDonald’s etc. In that it is the biggest guy on the block, making it a popular target.

      That being said…
      Currently many Christian Americans identify with being American as their primary identity rather than a follower of Jesus which is reflected in their actions and beliefs. I believe that this is what the author is getting at. A follower of Jesus might choose to be primarily concerned with doing what Jesus did while not letting nationalistic pride/agendas influence their decisions and actions. A different broad brush example: many Christians I know are very vocal about their 2nd amendment rights and what they would do if Obama tries to take their guns. I.e. violence in the name of their rights as Americans rather than non violence in the name of their Savior. Maybe just one not so great example of mixed priorities.

      And just to be clear, God our only protector.

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The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

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