Dec 112014 0 Responses

Proof Faith and Patriotism Are Sometimes At Odds

A friend once told me, “I’ve never felt any conflict between my faith and my patriotism.” In his experience there had never been a time in which what Jesus has commanded and what his country needed were at odds.

My experience is radically different. (See: The Lie of Christmas)

I often feel a tension between my love for country and my love for Jesus. What I think is in the best interest of our nation and what is the call of God upon His children are not always the same.

At no time is that felt more than when the issue of torture is discussed in the context of terrorism.

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report regarding the use of torture techniques on accused terrorists. The report immediately became a political football. Politicians from both sides of the aisle spun the story to fit whatever narrative they desired. While the wisdom of releasing such a report in today’s global climate can be fairly debated, there was nearly complete unanimous opinion by most of my friends—”do to terrorists whatever you wish.”

As an American, I support this sentiment. The evil acts carried out against Americans and people of all nationalities in the name of terrorism has been appalling. It’s impossible to have any sympathetic feelings toward anyone who would support the beheading of Americans, murder of children, and evil carried out among many nations. (See: The Most Powerful Divide In All of Life)

Yet in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”

Clearly there is a difference between the responsibilities of a nation and that of an individual. Our government has a duty to protect its citizens and strive toward justice. The words of Jesus do not necessarily prevent war, interrogation techniques, or actions taken by the military to save the lives of others, even if it means taking the lives of some.

However, the words of Jesus do clearly confront my heart. They do apply directly to me without qualification for whom my enemies may be or what they may have done. Either the words of Jesus apply to what I consider to be the worst of humanity or they apply to no one.

It was Jesus who prayed for the very men who executed him.

It was Jesus who died for the very ones who rebelled against him.

It was Jesus who chose to love us even when we hated him.

Conveniently, I want to take the words of Jesus and only apply them to a hypothetical enemy. I try to water down his words to only apply to someone with whom I have a petty dispute or a general dislike for their personality. Yet when Jesus says “enemy” he weds it with the word “persecute.” These enemies are the ones who do evil acts simply in response to the Christian faith. They were the first century terrorists.

Jesus calls me to love the very ones I want to hate. This is a contradiction between my patriotism and my faith. The contradiction is a great reminder that I’m not nearly as much like Jesus as I want to be. What I find impossible, he found natural. (See: The Most Confident Christians)

I’m called to love my enemies. This does not mean turning a blind eye to what they are doing. It does not mean I have to cower in the corner as they terrorize others. As a matter of fact, God’s command to love likely calls us to action. However, even as we attempt to restrain the acts of evil, we are commanded to love the very ones carrying out evil.

It’s a very un-American teaching, but it is the teaching of Jesus.


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