I want to focus on a positive aspect within nationalism; National identity can help overcome narrow tribalism. A common trend today, especially in Western nations, is that populations are becoming more diverse- racially, religiously, linguistically and otherwise. In this process, we have the opportunity to engage, understand and work with people who differences might otherwise separate us. (Wilkens pg 71, 72) It is the job and honor of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to try to make disciples of the people from all nations.
The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Winning the lost world to faith in Jesus Christ depends on all believers. Making disciples is a Christian duty for the person who has already accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Making disciples is clearly commanded many times in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to try always to win the lost to Christ by a spoken witness.
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The child of God should also present a Christian way of life. The methods used to witness should be in agreement with the gospel of Christ. Genesis 12:1-3 teaches us that 1: Lord told Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. 2: I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others. 3: I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of earth will be blessed through you. (NIV Bible) Exodus 19:5-6, 5: Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the nations of the earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6: And you will be to me a kingdom of priests, my holy nation. ‘Give this message to the Israelites. ” A potential problem with Nationalism is it overreaches in its demand for loyalty. No Christian can offer absolute loyalty to any social structure- nation, family, school, individual church congregation or work- because all are relative goods.
Nationalism, however, is a jealous god that does not tolerate relegation of nation identify to a position of relative significance. (Wilkens pg 75) Deuteronomy 6:15 for the LORD your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God. His anger will flare up against you and wipe your from the face of earth. (NIV Bible)Thus, it plays on our patriotism and legitimate appreciation for the benefits provided by the nation and emands unlimited loyalty, frequently by co-0pting religious language and goals for advancing tis own agenda.
When a nation makes such demands on our commitments, it establishes itself as a competing religion. (Wilkens pg 75) We must avoid and fight idolatrous forms of nationalism and even many of its gentler, but equally seductive, elements in more peaceful lands. We need to forsake the paraphernalia of nationalism within our church structures, and when we consider matters of war, trade, language and immigration, to do so in dialogue not only with our nation-state but also in conversation with fellow believers around the world.
Christians should not easily fight against one another at the behest of national leaders. (Farrar, 1993) References: NIV Easy To Understand Relevant for Today, Holy Bible, 2002, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc Wheaton, Illinois Hidden Worldviews Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives, 2009 by Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sanford Journeys into the New Nationalism (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1993);