During the month of July in the United States, concepts of patriotism, liberty, and loyalty are bandied about. But how much time do we spend reflecting on these important values compared to outdoor barbeques, parades, and fireworks? An examination of these words in light of God’s Word can prepare us for meaningful discussions with our children and grandchildren.
Patriotism is a feeling of love and devotion to one’s country, perhaps even to the point of protecting it. As believers in Jesus Christ, we can seek peace and prosperity for the nation in which God has placed us while, at the same time, remembering that we are strangers and aliens here (1 Peter 2:11). Our true and eternal citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). One can have gratitude for the culture and basic human values of his country without necessarily thinking it is better than others (thus the difference between patriotism and nationalism). The Christian’s first allegiance is to God’s kingdom, particularly when the two cultures clash.
Question for reflection:
As a Christian grandparent,
do I prioritize God’s kingdom
over all other earthly pursuits?
Liberty is stressed in our United States history and culture. It is even necessary to pass a test about these liberties for a person born in another country to become a U.S. citizen. In Luke 22:42, we see Jesus voluntarily giving up His divine liberties for us as He humbled himself to the point of death on our behalf (Philippians 2:8). It is what some have termed “the Great Exchange”: Jesus gave up His liberties as the Son of God to give us liberty and freedom from bondage to sin and death.
The Grandparent Test of Liberty:
Are we willing to deny our own desires
and personally release long-held plans
to minister to our families as God leads us?
Loyalty is not a popular idea in today’s world. Stores, businesses, and products invest many resources in an attempt to build customer loyalty; even churches have been affected by the consumer mentality. True loyalty has several characteristics. It is steady and doesn’t waver; it is gauged by actions, not just words, and necessitates practical involvement. Loyalty cannot be forced upon someone as it is a voluntary choice. And, perhaps most critically, loyalty requires the sacrifice of giving something precious or highly valued even when it is inconvenient. When we are loyal, we adjust our schedules to meet what is needed by those to whom we are loyal regardless of their ability to repay us. God proclaims His loyalty and faithfulness to His children in 2 Timothy 2:13: “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
Living in Minnesota provides the opportunity to see many Canadian geese. I recently learned that the female goose plucks down feathers from her breast to surround the incubating eggs in her nest. Then the heat from the bare “incubation patch” on her body keeps the eggs warm as they develop. Mother geese have been known to continue sitting on infertile eggs for up to five months past the typical 28 days required for hatching in hopes that babies will appear. Now that is an example of surrendering liberties and sacrificial loyalty!
Christian Grandparent Test of Loyalty:
Am I willing to adjust my schedule or be inconvenienced
to meet the needs of my children, grandchildren, or others
whom God has brought under my sphere of influence?
What am I willing to sacrifice to be involved in their lives
and leave a spiritual legacy?
Time, money, personal comfort, other resources?
How quickly do I give up if I do not see results in my expected time frame?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, may my eyes be focused on your kingdom, my life reflect your priorities, and my heart open to sacrificing personal comfort and preferences in order to minister to those you call me to serve. Amen.