It is certainly true that every Christian is called to a universal family in which there is no distinction between Jew or Gentile, male or female (Galatians 3:28 ) – or for that matter, Americans, English, French, Nigerians or citizens of any nation. But many scriptures show that as members of the family of God, we can still appreciate and celebrate our own individual cultural heritage or nationality.
A verse often used to help show that our identity with our own nation is acceptable is Jeremiah 29:7, where God’s people were encouraged to pray for their city (which was, at that time, Babylon!) and country. In a similar manner, we find Psalm 122:6 urging us to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” and many other psalms praying for, or encouraging others to pray for, the land and people of Israel.
So identity with and support of one’s nation is certainly found in the Old Testament, but what about the New Testament – did Christ’s teaching and the establishment of the Christian faith do away with love and concern for one’s country?
When we remember that Jesus wept over the fate of Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39, Luke 19:41-44) and the apostle Paul wrote that one of his chief desires was for his fellow Jews to be saved (Romans 10:1), we see the expression of a specific attitude. That attitude does not view the Israelites as being more important than other peoples (John 10:16; 1 Timothy 2:4), but it shows the importance of the welfare of one’s country and fellow citizens for both Jesus and Paul.
At the most basic level, the question “Is love of country biblical?” revolves around the concept of nations within the Bible. Are the nations themselves purely human constructs that somehow are in opposition to God’s will? The Scriptures give overwhelming evidence that this is not so. Abraham was told by God that all the nations of the world – not just the peoples – would be blessed through him (Genesis 22:18). Deuteronomy 32:8 tells us that God himself gave the nations their inheritance and set their boundaries, and we see the continuation of the individual nations in God’s plan for humanity throughout the books of the Bible.
Consider the many verses that show this in the Bible’s final book. The Book of Revelation tells us that those who overcome will rule over the nations (Revelation 2:26), and that all nations will eventually worship before God (Revelation 15:4). At its conclusion, in its description of the New Earth, Revelation stresses that the nations will walk according to God’s light (Revelation 21:24), that the glory and honor of the nations will be brought into the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:26), and that the tree of life will be there for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2).
So the Bible does not show that human nations are simply part of human government that will be superseded by the government of God – nations are clearly in existence in the Kingdom of God itself. We should never place our physical nation, like anything else, before our allegiance to God (Acts 5:29), but we are free to appreciate and support our individual nations and, like Jesus and Paul, to love them.