This upcoming July 1 serves as a historic landmark for celebrating Canada’s 150 anniversary as a nation. I am sure many families will gather to enjoy fireworks and celebrate with their friends that night, as will I to give thanks to the Lord for the land that he has given me for the majority of my life.
But for me, Canada Day serves also as a time of reflection. More specifically, I have wondered whether we as Canadians should be proud of our citizenship to such a wonderful country, and also whether we are to have a personal attachment to the land as well. I have seen a trifecta of loving God, his people, and the land among many of my role models that has me pondering on the matter. However you may feel on the topic of patriotism, here are my two cents.
Up until very recently, I felt that it was biblical to be patriotic. After all, the Israelites in the Old Testament were very patriotic. They acknowledged the amazing privilege of being set apart distinct as a people group. The land they lived in was important since God promised it to them. One’s inheritance was tied to a plot of land, and that’s where you would live and die on. They had to fight together as a nation to survive. How they took care of the land was also a reflection of their relationship with God. And the same sentiment hasn’t change with most Jews living in Israel today.
But the relationship is not one-to-one with us who live in Canada today. The land that we live in is not the promised land. The reality is that heaven and the New Jerusalem described in Revelation is where we truly belong. We as a people group are exiles, immigrants both in the native and spiritual sense. So in a biblical sense, we are more like the Jews who had been taken into Babylonian captivity and exiled from their homeland.
How did the prophet Jeremiah instruct the Jewish exiles in Jeremiah 29? To build homes and settle down. To plant vineyards and eat the produce. To marry and have sons and daughters. And that’s what the Jews did, and not only did they flourish as a people group, but they also impacted Babylonian society. Just read the book of Daniel and Esther to see a glimpse of that. But Babylon remained Babylon, and their hope and pride, looked homeward.
The book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan has been a favorite of mine and deeply touches on the matter. It is a giant allegory of the Christian life. The main character is called ‘Christian’ and journeys toward the Celestial kingdom (heaven), but is fraught with peril and danger along the way. He travels through places such as Vanity fair and the city of destruction, but also receives help from people such as ‘Evangelist’ and ‘Faithful’. A memorable scene is when Christian sees three people named ‘Folly’, ‘Presumption’ and ‘indifference’, sleeping on the side of the road to life. He tries to wake them up but it doesn’t work. Then he notices their arms and feet are chained to an enormous tree. They do not wake up because they are totally content with where they are.
I wonder if in our comfort zone that we have ‘chained’ ourselves to the land of Canada. in 1 John 2:15 we are told not to love the things of this world. So to wave flags and proclaim our ‘love’ for Canada can have the wrong eternal perspective. After all, there are many things that I grieve about in this land of freedom. We publicly fund abortions in Canada. Human Trafficking is alive and well even here in Toronto. Homosexuality is celebrated on the streets. The number of homeless and impoverished grow day by day. The church and love for the word of God is diminishing.
Someone once asked me if I was proud to be Canadian. Looking back, I would say that I am proud to be a Christian, and thankful to be a Canadian. I’m thankful that here in Canada we have freedom of speech, social welfare, beautiful nature, colorful mosaic of people groups, and a high standard of living. But I have not settled in this land. For my citizenship and treasures are not of this world.
Creative commons image taken from https://goo.gl/DptuZW