“So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
I was raised to be very patriotic. I am still a very patriotic person. I still get chills when attending a football or baseball game, and place my hand over my heart, and quietly sing along to the National Anthem. I sing it the traditional way. I do not try to emulate Whitney Houston. Until this month, I tried to never address the President of the United States by only his last name. Even when addressing Richard Nixon, I was oft to say, “President Nixon,” even when I was bashing him. I believe it is important to respect the office, even if you cannot respect the person. Yet, with over my fifty-four years on this earth, the way I live out my patriotism has changed in some ways.
Growing up as an “Air Force brat,” I was taught that the government was right and it was unpatriotic to question our nation and its leaders. President Nixon severely damaged my (and many others) naïve worldview. As an eleven and twelve year old, I was confused and frustrated by my family reactions. My father’s side of the family were staunch Democrats and I remember vividly them making fun of each Presidential aid stepping up to the judicial plate. They cheered when John Dean dropped the bomb shell. They laughed at Haldeman’s squirming. But the best day in their lives was the day Nixon got on the Helicopter, no longer president.
Meanwhile, my mother’s side of the family was stanch Republican. Each new indictment was an arrow through the heart of my mother and grandmother. It felt like the world was falling apart, piece by little piece. This dismantling of our innocence, went on for many painful months. Who were we as Americans, if our nation was no longer trustworthy?
As we open the Book of Acts, the Apostles were dealing with a similar lack of control and trust. Jesus is about to ascend to Heaven, and they were left to clean up the mess. The Jewish people betrayed them by not accepting their Messiah. Even worse, the Roman Empire denied them even the minority rights given the Jews. They felt lost and alone, while being vulnerable to persecution. But they were not really alone. Soon we shall find out how God will bless the people of faith moving forward. We will experience the Holy Spirit in a new and even greater way!
Today, think about how your patriotism has changed over time. How do your political views reflect your faith? In what ways are you in line with the values and beliefs of our present national leadership, and in what ways are you concerned with the direction our nation is taking? It is biblical to reflect and act on our faith, even when it is in opposition with our President. Sometimes the most patriotic thing we can do is speak the truth in opposition. The Civil Rights movement was considered anti-patriotic by many fifty years ago, and now is the foundation of our patriotism. Our opposition might be the future’s patriotic cornerstone. Reflect and take action today!