I am a citizen of heaven and a citizen of the United States of America. The former trumps the latter in every respect. Yet, unlike a growing number of my friends, I do not summarily disregard or downplay the importance of my American citizenship.
I understand the tension they may feel. They do not want American patriotism to turn into some form of idolatry which displaces the priority of worshipping God. To be sure, their diligence in distinguishing between God and country is worth taking to heart. Yet, some of them have begun to displace love of country altogether, pointing out the evils which have been perpetrated in the past or that are now going on. Others have taken a step away from any civic involvement, including voting or engagement in the arena of ideas which concern our culture. They have checked out, citing that their first citizenship is in heaven.
I do not begrudge them this right. My ancesters and relatives fought and died on fields of battle so that these folks may exercise their right to question the legitimacy of the Revolutionary War (yes, someone recently did this), or the right of governments to utilize military forces to defend their lands.
It is no simple matter to navigate the tension of citizenship in God’s economy and of the nation in which we are born. As an American, I respect any human being who loves their country in any part of the world. The Olympics are a regular tribute to such patriotism. It does not mean they have to like everything that country has done or will do. America is no exception.
Let’s get real. America has done some really bad things, as have other nations. Slavery, abortion, corruption in high places, perversion through mass media, and so on. Of course, many of my friends would disagree with my list, applauding abortion (they call it a woman’s right to choose), and abhoring colonialism (there is some validity to their argumentation, but it is not quite so simple as they typically make it) or capitalism (this is the one that really annoys them above all others, a point which I find ironic since they deploy capitalistic methods to spread their message and fund their agendas, such as environmentalism and redistribution of wealth).
In the end, my priority is my citizenship as a servant of the Lord God. Since he has situated me as an American citizen, I also owe a measure of allegiance to this nation. I do so whole-heartedly, given America’s dedication to liberty as one nation under God.
What about you? How do you navigate your priorities concerning citizenship?