Mark serves as an associate editor of the Worldview Church in the area of Worship Arts. He is an author, teacher, worship leader and college professor. See more of his biography under the “About” tab.
The question will inevitably arise as to how appropriate it is to sing patriotic songs during our worship services. These types of questions arise each year in proximity to the July 4th holiday, as well as other national celebrations in which we remember America’s heritage.
Most of the arguments against such a focus on patriotic themes are that our public worship is about God and worshiping Him. To focus on our country, our troops, and our feelings about them would be close to "idol" worship, and therefore be inappropriate. Or, as so the logic goes. This seems to me to be a limited understanding of the communal aspects of public worship, and fails to recognize the importance of the interpersonal relationships among those worshiping together (see Colossians 3).
I fall clearly into the other camp that would say that it is both important and appropriate to draw a celebration of our country into our corporate worship experience. I would point out that Paul, in Romans 13, establishes the precedent of acknowledging the ruling authorities as operating under the authority of God. With this in mind, our worship (especially here in the USA) recognizes God's grace and mercy in giving us the freedom through our governing authorities to worship Him and proclaim Christian truth.
This is not about any particular political agenda, or at least it shouldn’t be. Our celebration of freedom and liberty during these times recognizes the great sacrifice that men and women have made in order to secure that freedom. In some ways, they are a reflection of the sacrifice Christ made on the cross to secure our spiritual freedom. These are the kinds of connections we can make when we view our culture through the lens of a Christian Worldview.
Truly, we are not worshiping our country, but we worship our God Who has given us the privilege of living and worshiping here. As we do so, may we also remember those who have protected that freedom throughout this nation's history. Let us honor them, and pray for them and their families, in the midst of celebrating within our communities.
Our associate editor, Mark Sooy, recommends The Birth of Freedom: How Biblical Foundations Changed History (Acton Media). Purchases through the Colson Center Bookstore help financially support this ministry.