As workers of the Eternal Kingdom, Christ-followers must be wary of unfettered nationalism. For the Christ-follower, it is impossible to have full commitment to both God and country. Only to God.
This indeed is a hard pill to swallow. We want to follow what is most tangible and present, and we find this often in national identity. However, in so doing, we neglect the even more present and Eternal Kingdom, which can be found all around us. In the air we breathe, the sky we see, the stars above us, the grass beneath us, the birds flying, the flowers blooming—in all these areas (and, the list goes on endlessly, without borders) God’s Eternal Kingdom is visible. As Christ followers, we must ultimately either pledge allegiance to that Kingdom or ultimately reject eternal truth.
Jesus, talking to a political leader in His day, said it this way: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over…But my kingdom is not from the world…You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:36-38)
Listening to Jesus’ words, we also see that we are not called to turn our nations into some faux Christ-centered paradise by political or militant force. Instead, we are called to seek eternal truth, and thus the Eternal Kingdom. This happens by listening to Christ and walking in His ways. Which means, simply, following the Greatest Commandment (love God, love others).
Now, does this mean that we should have no sense of duty, or love, for country? By no means. We are called to be workers for the Eternal Kingdom in our present circumstances. Many people think of Jesus’ saying “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Luke 20:25) only when paying taxes. But, perhaps this should also apply to our understanding of nationality. It is right and good to have a sense of responsibility for the nation in which we live, but our ultimate soul and passion must be for Christ.
We know that Jesus did not float above the ground while He was on earth. He lived truthfully in the present. His Kingdom was not of this world, but He lived in the world. And so should we.