Living in the South, I know that on July 4th (on a Sunday) means that color guards will march into churches all over but especially here. Patriotic songs will replace hymns and preachers will wax long on what makes America great and how, if only our people will repent, we will be great or greater again. The presumption underneath all of this is that God is an American (or should be). That presumption is false and it mixes patriotism and Christianity in a way that is unfaithful to either.
God is not an American and America is not the chosen land. It is a wonderful nation and I am very, very grateful to have been born here, to live here, and to raise a family here. The worst thing we can do as Americans is to confuse faith with patriotism. They are not the same. To whom much is given, much is expected. And we have been given much. With that much goes great responsibility but what does not go with it is the freedom to presume that God favors us over all others.
I know that some will be offended by what I write. They will assume that I am anti-American (which I am not). But it is an even greater offense to co-mingle the rightful pride and the wonderful heritage we have as Americans with our faith in the God who delivered up His own Son to be our Savior and Redeemer and who established a kingdom in but not of this world. Church is not the place to confuse this distinction. Nations and churches have both suffered greatly when patriotism and faith are woven together into a single fabric. Lutherans ought to know better. Everyone ought to know better.
That is about all I am going to say on the subject. If you visit us tomorrow, you will hear us pray for our leaders, for our nation, for all manner and situations of our people, and we will sing a hymn or two that puts the tension between patriotism and faith into proper perspective. You will hear Jesus Christ and Him crucified but you will not here a patriotic sermon. That would betray the Gospel and mix together what should be kept distinguished and separate. We owe it to Jesus and we owe it to the nation we love so much not to fall into the trap of presuming God is an American or loves Americans better than all the rest.