What does patriotism look like for the kingdom citizen. How should citizens pay the price for the kingdom?
...many may read this text and embark on a long (deliberately) perilous journey to manufacture such a testimony, perhaps so they can share their stories in church. Such an approach would be to completely miss the point and the heart of the patriot.
A COMMENTARY ON PATRIOTISM
There was the royal wedding, then the Queens jubilee, then the Olympics. The last couple of years have increasingly stirred up a sense of national pride. On my way to work I seem to see more British flags on display than I used to. And with the conservatives in power I think we can expect to see more attempts to whip up the British spirit. David Cameron has been pushing the ‘Big society’ agenda, supposedly encouraging citizens to take responsibly for their local areas. Many voices are now boldly saying multiculturalism has failed. The ad campaign preceding the Olympics was about putting the “Great” back into “Great Britain”. And all this for what end? In short: Patriotism. There is a sense that the British people need to rediscover their identity and rekindle patriotism. The London riots arguably highlighted the absence of national pride amongst many citizens.
Every country and kingdom benefits from having exemplary citizens, who embody and model the ideals for a nation. The contribution of one patriot outweighs the input of many passive citizens. The problem many believers have is we don’t really understand that we are in a real Kingdom, (complete with a King, a theocratic governmental system, laws, citizenship and with an expectation to produce a divine culture) and so the concept of a patriot can easily go unappreciated.
The dictionary defines a patriot as “a person who loves and vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”
What is patriotism
Unfortunately Christendom’s idea of patriotism has turned into a Christian t-shirt, hat, badge and bumper sticker. In some cases patriotism would be viewed more as being “radical 4 Christ” (said in husky rock n’ roll accent), which translates to shouting the loudest hallelujah or clanging a guitar to some contemporary praise music on the streets. Patriotism is not being a monk inflicting self initiated punishments to further sanctify oneself. Patriotism is not being a celebrity preacher on television. These ideas of patriotism are very outward driven, they focus on what can be seen and are often disconnected from reality. A true patriot demonstrates the highest form of citizenship, devotion, and loyalty to the King. To the patriot, God is the only audience and His will is the only priority. 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 gives us an insight into Paul’s life and details the experience and expression of a patriot in the Kingdom. Embrace yourself:
16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about.
The patriot should not be taken for a fool
Not only was Paul not receiving the respect and honour due to him, it appears there were some who sought to belittle him. The patriot maintains his citizenship despite the lack of praise of men.
The patriot recognises the folly in boasting
It seems prior to Pauls disclosure, his audience were unaware of the cost he had paid for the King and for the Kingdom. He is making an exemption by ‘boasting as a fool’ in a sense for their benefit and not for his elevation.
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I.
The patriot has a strong national identity
Many believers identify themselves in light of the church denomination and fail to understand God’s objective has always been to form a nation with a quality of citizenship (royal priesthood, holy nation).
The patriot has an understanding of history, heritage and inheritance
The patriot is aware of the great cloud of witnesses that preceded him. The awareness of the legacy of his forefathers shapes his understanding, identity and expression.
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.
The patriot serves the King
If he were trying to please men then he could not be a servant of God.
The patriot demonstrates a work ethic
He runs as to win the prize. Consumed with furthering the agenda of the Kingdom.
The patriot will encounter much suffering
We spend much of our life seeking comfort and happiness. The patriots total surrender to the King also results in surrendering his desire to ensure the Kings will is accomplished.
The patriot must live as a martyr
Paul was willing to die for the cause. He demonstrated this in his daily living. He had an awareness that the life at work in him could never die.
24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.
The patriot will be persecuted by others
Persecution can often come from fellow citizens. Nevertheless the patriot still fights for citizenship and the greater good of others.
The patriot travels as an ambassador
Paul’s journeys were directed by the Kings ambition. There must be a willingness to go or stay wherever the King desires.
The patriot will encounter experiences testifying to God’s faithfulness
These experiences may not always appear positive at the time. But with hindsight the patriot grows in awareness of the power of God.
The patriot faces diverse dangers
Like a good soldier he may encounter and be moved to enter dangerous situations to forward the agenda of the Kingdom.
27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
The patriot will pay a personal price
1. Sleep deprivation
2. Food deprivation
3. Comfort deprivation
28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
The patriot is concerned with the affairs of the community
He plays a practical intercessory role.
The patriot has deep love and empathy for the condition of fellow citizens
His thoughts and emotions are tied with the experience of fellow citizens.
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
The patriot has nothing to personally boast about
The patriot is aware his strength is not his own. Having experienced the reality of God, man is robbed of his boasting. This lack of boasting can cause the ignorant to treat him with contempt.
31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
The patriot is a person of impact
The patriot impacts his environment. When governments meet him they realise they are dealing with a governmental person of another Kingdom. The patriot may be hated or loved but will not be ignored.
Now, many may read this text and embark on a long (deliberately) perilous journey to manufacture such a testimony, perhaps so they can share their stories in church. Such an approach would be to completely miss the point and the heart of the patriot. True patriotism is not showy or obsessed with stage performances, it is a hidden resolve to serve the King with all, even to death. It not only about dying for the cause but living for the King, not only in the big things but also in the small things. True patriotism can not be manufactured; a sincere pledge of loyalty to the King and a determination to obey is all that’s needed. The King will determine the rest.