Nationalism is defined as "a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their countries", of which I have no beef.
However, nationalism or patriotism, for too many Christians, has morphed into something more than promoting citizenship, becoming for many idolatrous.
Having once held the following views, to some degree or another, I give you three signs I believe are indicative of a heart infected with the idol of extreme nationalism:
You Prioritize National Welfare Over Humanitarian Welfare.
While there may be times when the good of your country means the good of those in need, this is quite often not the case.
For example, the welfare of any given nation usually depends, in some way and at some point, on the nation's willingness to go to war to eliminate an enemy (or potential enemy), meaning that humans, innocent as well as guilty, will be killed.
In addition, while legalizing marijuana (or other harmful, addictive substances), prostitution, gay marriage, video gambling, porn shops, and the like may rake in loads of revenue from eager customers, making a country more financially “prosperous”, these vices still run counter to the betterment of humanity.
Furthermore, the United States government has a nasty habit of establishing (or helping to establish) and funding brutal dictators in the Middle East and Africa (think Egypt) that kill, imprison, and oppress Christians.
This happens because, despite how these wicked men treat disciples of Christ, their governance in some way benefits American international interests.
Finally, caring for the poor and needy, whether at home or abroad, may drain a country's resources while all the while benefiting the individual receiving the assistance.
These are just some of the ways national welfare and humanitarian welfare correlate negatively.
That being said, when the time comes for the Christian to make a choice between what's good for his country versus what's good for person or people group “x”, and that time will come, if he chooses his country, you can be sure it has become for him an idol.
Why do I say this?
Because while the Bible has much to say about how Christians are to help their neighbors (Mark 12:31; Luke 10:25-37), friend or foe (Gal. 6:10), not once are we commanded to work at propping up any earthly government with our service (remember giving taxes was about rendering dues, not national advancement).
This does not mean working for the edification of a nation is wrong, necessarily, rather that when the decision is between what God has commanded (i.e., help your neighbor) versus what He has not (i.e., serve your country), we must obey God's command (Acts 5:29), even if it runs counter to the welfare of the earthly kingdom we live in, trusting God to make up the difference.
You Place Politics over People.
|From the Facebook page "Christian Conservatives"|
(As a side note I tried to find a similar example from the Christian Left, but was unable to do so.)
What you just read (and there were plenty more statements of the same un-Christian caliber) was written by people who love party politics so much that they hate their neighbor.
Every day, I read things online, hear on the news, or experience first-hand in conversation people who cannot see past political labels long enough to realize that the people they malign are human beings made in the image and likeness of God.
And I'm sure you have too.
Let it be stated, I am not talking here about criticism; I am talking about the wide-eyed hysteria that “they”, the other political side, are trying to “destroy our country” or “take away 'x' rights” or what have you, leading to the kind of hate-fulled invective we see above.
Believers who let party politics come before Christian decency and charity have created an idol.
You Support Warfare as a Means of Securing “Rights”.
Like the sacrifices and offerings the Israelites offered to the golden calf in the wilderness, war is the sacrifice made to the twin idols of life and liberty.
When we decide that “life and liberty”, as prized concepts, are worth killing people for, despite the biblical command not to resist our enemies with violence; (Matt. 5:38-39; 2 Cor 10:3-4), Houston, we have a very big problem
When Christians support war....
Not shedding innocent blood (which God hates; Prov 6:17) is traded for talk of “collateral damage”, “necessary casualties of war”, and the “greater good”.
Love your enemies (Matt. 5:44) is abandoned in favor of killing our enemies.
Take up your cross (Matt 16:24) becomes take up your weapon.
He who wants to save His life will lose it (Matt 16:25) devolves into "He who takes a life saves his own”.
When we say "yes" to warring, we declare there is something more important than obedience to God: preserving life and liberty.
And like putting country and politics before people, disobeying God by going to war amounts to idolatry.
Did I miss something? Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment for me in the box below.