Christianity and Nationalism

What did I mean by the word “nationalism” in last Sunday’s message?

Chris Hutchison on December 8, 2018

In this past Sunday’s message, I made the statement that “there must be zero tolerance among us for attitudes of racism or nationalism.”

Perhaps you’re unsure of what I meant by that last word—“nationalism.” Maybe you’ve heard it used as an antonym for “globalism,” which is certainly not the sense I had in mind. So what is “nationalism”? The Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as an “ideology based on the premise that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass other individual or group interests.”

Mirriam-Webster defines it like this: “loyalty and devotion to a nation especially: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.”

According to these definitions, I hope it’s clear why Christianity and nationalism are incompatible. As followers of King Jesus, our primary emphasis should never be to promote the culture and interests of our country, but rather the interests of the Kingdom of God. Similarly, our devotion and loyalty to Christ must be greater than all other loyalties—including our loyalty to our country. Because, as Hebrews 11:13 says, God’s people have always been “strangers and exiles on the earth.” Similarly, 1 Peter 2:11 refers to us as “sojourners and exiles.” And Philippians 3:20 reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven.”

And like we heard on Sunday, Christians should have a special interest in those from other nations, because God does, and He’s told us to have the same (Matthew 28:19).

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Christians can’t be patriotic or practice good citizenship. It doesn’t mean that Christians should be apathetic about political issues like immigration policy or state sovereignty.

What it does mean is that the interests of the Kingdom of God should take first place in our heart, and that we view all of these other issues—and all of the individuals represented by these issues—through the lens of the Great Commission, which is to say, God’s heart to bless the nations.