The 4th of July holiday is quickly approaching. For many of us, that means picnics, fireworks and looking forward to singing some great patriotic songs in church on Sunday morning.
Does your church do this? If so, you may also repeat the process on Memorial Day weekend. Have you ever thought that it was out of place, or even wrong? I have.
Please do not get me wrong. I love my country. I would never desire to live anywhere else in the world and I am thankful for all of those who have served in our military through the years to keep us safe and free. However, when I go to church, I go to worship my God for who he is, what he has done, what he is doing, or what he is going to do. Most patriotic songs are not focused on the greatness of God, they are focused on the greatness of the United States.
Do you think I am wrong? Here are some of the words from America the Beautiful:
“O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”
It is true that the song mentions God (although it is not necessarily the Christian God – any religion could use this same song and feel comfortable), but where is the focus of the song? It is on the greatness of America. Proper focus in a church worship service should be on the greatness of God; the one who shed his grace on America. We can thank God for the United States and for shedding his grace on our great land, but he should be the focus.
Another example is My Country, “Tis of Thee:
“My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing: Land where my father’s died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountain side let freedom ring. My native country, thee, land of the noble free – thy name I love: I love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills; my heart with rapture thrills like that above.”
Again, where is the focus of this song? It is certainly not on God. Am I wrong or is the gathering of the saints supposed to be for corporate worship of our God? Are we replacing worship of God with worship of country? I know this will not be a popular post with many, but if you disagree with me, please tell me why I am off-track. I know we live in a great country. It is a country blessed by God and it is God we should gather to honor on 4th of July weekend and every other Sunday of the year. We do this by making him (and him alone) the focus of all we do – including the songs we sing.
Before you accuse me of being “anti-” or “un-” American, please understand that I do not have a problem with patriotic songs. In fact, I think there is a time and place to pay honor to our country and these songs are great for that. However, I do not believe the time or place is in a church worship service where the focus should be God.
Okay, now you can blast me with your comments.