I want a patriotic church


One of the things I love about being Canadian is we’re not a terribly patriotic bunch. Don’t get me wrong; we don’t hate our country, and we’re more or less quite happy to be here. But even at the best of times, like on Canada Day[1. The celebration of our becoming the dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867], we shoot some fireworks, have some concerts… but it’s pretty unusual for churches to share a message like “What’s right about Canada,” whereas in America, this is apparently pretty common.

There are good things and bad things to this, of course. Our lack of a patriotic attitude might be a lack of conviction. We don’t seem to feel too strongly about most anything, except possibly government-run healthcare and how we’re “better than” or “fat, but not as fat as” Americans.[2. Neither of which are true, by the way. But we tell ourselves this so we can feel better about ourselves.] And this would be a shame, as (despite our passive-aggressive goofiness) Canada’s a pretty decent place to be. After all, look what we’ve contributed to the world: poutine, The Barenaked Ladies, Nathan Fillion, Tim Challies, William Shatner… How bad can we be?

But there’s a danger here, too. Our lack of conviction about the nation in which we live can easily morph into a lack of conviction about our true citizenship. So we sing songs, we go through the motions, we give lip-service to being exiles and sojourners, citizens of some other place.[3. My obligatory Thrice reference for the day] But really, we’re just pretty… okay.

We’re glad to be Christians, but we can be a little “meh” about the whole thing.

But you know what? I don’t want that for me or my church.

I don’t want us to be silly and sad and kind of pathetic. I don’t want complacency about our citizenship. I want us to be a patriotic church—not one that’s consumed with what’s great about Canada or America, but what’s great about our true home, the kingdom of God.

  • To be people who “await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil 3:20-21).
  • To be people who are looking forward to the day when Jesus guides us “to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes” (Rev. 7:17).
  • To be people who, along with Peter and John, declare, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

That’s the kind of patriotism I want in my church and in every church in this world: an unabashed commitment to the Lord Jesus, and an unquenchable desire to see Him glorified. Anything less just isn’t worth it.

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.

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2 Replies to “I want a patriotic church”

  1. I think the way Canadians express patriotism is in deep vehemence that they are not Americans. An American friend of mine – a rather generous hearted friend, I should add – recently went on a trip with Canadians. She was quite taken aback by how fiercely and often the otherwise-nice people reminded her that they were NOT Americans. (She asked me about it afterward as she was puzzled by it.)

    And, by the way, from an outside perspective, I do think Canadians are patriotic. Maybe not as patriotic as us kooky Americans, but more than any other nation I know of. (In a scientific study of Facebook friends from all over the world, Canadians post a whole lot more about being Canadian than any of my Mexican friends post about being Mexican. Or Kenyan friends post about being Kenyan, etc.) And you do have your flag everywhere. I think you just don’t notice it, as I don’t notice the American flag everywhere.

    And, an obligatory third point, I know this comment has nothing to do with the actual point of your post, but I just like to rib Canadians whenever I can.

    1. Those are all good points, Amber. I guess I don’t think of our anti-Americanism as an example of our patriotism. I just think of it more as our crippling insecurity.

      And aren’t you glad ribbing Canadians is part of your job? 🙂

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