“Country First” not an Option for Evangelicals

One political party this fall advocates a platform of “Country First”. Although there would be many citizens who, for very understandable reasons, advocate this position, it is not a viable option for Evangelical Christians.

Evangelical Christians share the conviction that their first and primary task in life is to love God completely with their entire heart, mind, strength, and soul. They are also called to obey the second part of this command: to love their neighbors as themselves.

The church community is the place where Christian believers learn that their loyalties lie with another kingdom. Through worship, the preaching of the Word, and the sharing of the Lord’s Supper, Christians practice another kind of citizenship, one not at home in this world. This future world, called the kingdom of God, beckons Christians to live a different kind of life — now. In this kingdom, there is no debt, no isolation, no ostracism, and no despair. Everyone has enough in this kingdom. Christians must lean into this reality now, living as if heaven invaded the present. Therefore, in all they do, Evangelical Christians are to love and serve all people everywhere — especially their (former) enemies.

Christians must refuse all allegiances that supersede their commitment to God and neighbor. We encourage Evangelical Christians to refuse putting “Country First”.

Explore posts in the same categories: election 2008


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4 Comments on ““Country First” not an Option for Evangelicals”

  1. […] wrote a short post to stir the pot on our class political blog. The blog is starting to get going — it should have about 20 posts a week through the end of […]

  2. fullerstudent Says:

    Ryan, I completely agree with what you have said here and have struggled very personally with what the rejection of such rhetoric and belief must look like. Certainly, one of the primary ways to counter a prevalent cultural belief is to do just that: to participate in the debate and to offer rhetoric that suggests and defends a new set of beliefs. However, beyond this, Christians are faced with the challenge of witness not only through rhetoric but also through the actions of our lives. You have said, “Christians must refuse all allegiances that supersede their commitment to God and neighbor.” I do agree with this. I do think the Bible points to a new kingdom that erases earthly national allegiance. However, what does such a statement mean for the way Christians are then able to interact with the world in a way that points toward this new kingdom? Your argument would then preclude a Christian from working in government, would it not? Even as a Legislative Aide for a State Senator, I could not complete the hiring process without verbally proclaiming and signing, before a Senate legal counsel, that I would remain allegiant to the United States of America and put the interests of the state before any others. These kind of allegiances are required for many posts in the government level. Would you suggest Christians, then, in light of such a requirement, should abstain from government service?

    Obviously, many Christians, particularly of Mennonite or Anabaptist persuasion would argue this way. I personally am in a place where I agree with the perspective that Christians’ allegiance should be with God first and not country, and yet have not resolved the tension between that conviction and an equal conviction that Christians can and should influence systemic powers for the sake of justice and witness to the Kingdom of God through vocation in those systems. Certainly we have examples like Daniel or Esther, or any of the kings, or the centurion in the Gospels, whose vocational “allegiance” was to their government and yet they clearly served God first in actuality. To be fair, a government official’s allegiance to their country, and commitment to serve it first, is not completely out of line. In the same way, fathers commit to love their children before the neighbor’s kids, organizations and businesses focus on their own needs and goals before looking outside. And even the people of Israel were only a light to the nations when they took care of domestic issues first (I am NOT advocating a parallel between Israel’s missional role as a light to the nations and America in ANY way).

    Nationalistic endeavors are not in alignment with the character of the coming kingdom of God, and I certainly recognize the damage they have done historically in international relations. Yet, I wonder if there is any legitimacy to government officials focusing on the needs of their country first, and furthermore, if Christians can hold any positions that require such allegiance.

  3. coldfire Says:

    My only concern with this post is the reference to “the future world” of the kingdom. There needs also to be a vital link to the kingdom of God as something that happens here and now.

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