Hyper-Patriotism and the Gospel

Let me start out by saying this: I am thankful to be in America. I’m thankful for the freedom we have to worship Jesus Christ without serious persecution and fear of life or physical suffering. I’m thankful for the freedom we have in our work and in our businesses. I’m thankful for the many resources we have. I’m thankful for the diversity of people and landscapes. I’m thankful for the safety that is available through our military and laws. And I’m thankful for the federal, republic structure of our government; which takes its model from Scripture. 

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With all of this said, I’m also aware of the temptation to put our trust in people, organizations and our identity as Americans and Southerners, rather than put our trust in the Name of the LORD (YHWH) our God. 

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, 
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. 
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.”
— Psalm 20:7-8

David is using military language. In his culture, chariots and horses represented wealth and power among the nations.  Powerful countries would have large armies and they would have in their ranks chariots and horses. Chariots were expensive to make, and they were very powerful weapons in warfare that gave an army a very distinct advantage against other nations. They would set up the chariots on the front line and their job was to charge the oncoming battalion, and clear the way so that the infantry could come behind and penetrate the weakness which was exposed. If you owned many chariots and horses, you were the dominant nation which was going to survive and win the battle. 

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But David is saying, “I’m not going to trust in chariots and horses, I’m trusting in the LORD to win my battles and fight for me. And whether that means physically that I’m going to survive whatever this situation is in my life, I’m going to trust the LORD no matter what. I’m not going to put my trust in man-made things and man-made organizations. I’m putting my trust in the LORD. He is the LORD and my trust is in Him.”

How would this apply to us today? We don’t have chariots and horses marching around our towns. With July 4th, there’s going to be a lot of pride in our country. And that can be a good thing. We can be thankful for the fact that we can pray and worship in freedom. It’s a good thing to honor and give thanks for people who lay down their lives for our freedom. All of that is good. But sometimes we take our American - and Southern - pride too far.

I call this “Hyper-Patriotism.”

Hyper-Patriotism is when we make being American better than anything else. When we make being a citizen of the U.S.A. some kind of righteous, holy credential before God, and that to be anything else is to be lesser. That's just not true.

There’s nothing about the U.S.A. in the Bible. It's not there. So to have some form of hyper-patriotism, where being American is something that makes you better than anybody else, is just false pride and idolatry. These things will “collapse and fall, but we [those who trust in the LORD] rise and stand upright (v.8).”

Are you Hyper-Patriotic? Are you obsessed with being American or living in ‘MERICA? Are you obsessed with being Southern and having southern pride?

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I’m from the South. I like being in the South. I spent 4 years in Florida, which confirmed to me my desire to move back north to the South. I like pimento cheese, boiled peanuts, grits, BBQ, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens, creamed corn and Duke’s Mayonnaise. I’m thankful for warm smiles at Bi-Lo, nice head nods in the car, doors held open for strangers and friendly greetings of “hey” and “how are y’all” around town. But there is this temptation in the South to think of myself as better than anyone else because of where I live and where I’m from; and to think that God thinks more highly of me because of this as well.

Some trust in chariots and horses; some trust in presidents, candidates, parties, organizations, plans, agendas, a strong military, borders, procedures, history and strategy.

The Gospel says:

"Don’t trust in those things. Trust in the Name of the LORD, the Name which was given to Jesus (Philippians 2:5-11).  Trust in the fact that through faith in Jesus and His gospel, you’re no longer a citizen of this world, but you are a citizen of heaven; which is better than any earthly kingdom, government or organization. In Jesus, your identity is that you are a child of the God of heaven and co-heirs with Jesus Christ to the kingdom. Your sins are forgiven.  You're perfectly righteous through faith in Jesus. You're loved by a Father who rejoices over you. And you've been given the power of the Holy Spirit to live as one who is becoming more like Jesus everyday; conquering sin and temptation and all our spiritual enemies."

This is where our trust should be. In the Name of the Lord Jesus and His Gospel.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Name (Jesus) of the LORD our God." 

- Pastor Kent Suits