Greetings and peace in the name of the Lord. (see scriptural references at the end of this essay.)per
I respect the enthusiasm many people have for displaying their patriotic flags. In this article, I am only focusing on the issue of whether or not it’s appropriate to fly any national flags inside or outside a church.
I have prayed, studied the scriptures, and sought God’s guidance on the issue of flying a national flag at a house of worship. I share here some points that speak to my heart. I love my country and I’m grateful that God chose for me to be born here, it’s given me advantages I wouldn’t have elsewhere – especially freedom of religion. Our current socio-political climate is such that we are in serious danger of even losing that freedom now.
We Christ-followers need to bear the blame for some of this shift, we have not always done well at loving our “enemies” (however that word is defined), or loving those we believe to be sinners, even within our own congregations. We can do better, with God’s help and a big helping of humility “…they will know we are Christian by our love…” [see John 13:35, below]
This essay is not about patriotism; it’s about the purpose of church, the people of God, gathered to honor and worship and learn and grow in God. Installing a national flag at church, where the focus is supposed to be undivided, only for the worship of God, means mixing nationalism with Christianity. How many times have you heard someone refer to “God and country” as if they were inseparably intertwined?
Scripture shows over and over that the Lord was both saddened and angered when the Israelites lost focus on their first love, and started mixing loyalties by including secular or pagan practices (and icons) in their worship places and times. The house of the Lord is sanctuary, holy, set apart from all other things.
America’s founding fathers followed scriptural principles when they put in writing that there should be separation of church and state. The state cannot run the churches, nor establish a national religion, as in some other countries. We who follow Christ, would certainly love if everyone felt like we do and worship God, but we follow His example and do not coerce anyone to faith, nor force them to stay.
As Christians, we have taken His name as our own, and we follow the great commission, representing Him to the world. God loves all His people, not just one country, ethnicity, political persuasion, or people-group. How strong is our commitment to Christ’s great commission for His followers? Perhaps a truly missions-minded church could consider flying many nations’ flags, to remind everyone that the world is full of God’s people and we are to love them all, like God does.
A final note about National flags at churches who also fly the “Christian” flag. Is the Church “under America” or is America “one nation under God”? To follow American flag protocol, It implies that country is more important than God, when the national flag is flown higher than the so-called Christian flag. How does God view our agreement to hold “flag protocol” as an authority higher than God.
If you disagree, I bear you no ill will for holding a different position from mine. I pledge myself to seek the Lord’s will and live counter-culturally when the culture is in opposition to scripture. Jesus was radically counter-cultural and He asks for the same from us, sisters and brothers.
SOME OF THE SEVERAL SCRIPTURAL RESOURCES FOR THIS TOPIC:
Exodus 20:3 “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” [MY NOTE: I wonder if God would consider the flag to be an idol? Even if He approved of having just one nation’s flag flown at His house of worship, how would He most likely feel about the national flag being larger and higher than the one that is supposed to represent the Christian faith?]
John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Acts 5:29 “We must obey God rather than men!” [MY NOTE: We pledge allegiance only to him.]
Romans 2:11 “For God does not show favoritism.”
Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Colossians 3:10-12 “10and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him– 11a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. 12So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;”
Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 2:3-4 3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. [MY NOTE: Paul is telling Christians to please God, our Commanding Officer, rather than people.]
1 Peter 1:17 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
1 Peter 2:13-17 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. [MY NOTE: We are instructed to submit to the governing authorities where we live, but we are not instructed to hold them as above God.]