How does a Christian love his or her country well? The bible does not major on nationalism. the USA does not exist in the scriptures. Today, we accept such superficial virtue-signaling like reverencing the flag or building monuments as loving our country. While these things may be well and good, they are just cloth and brick and mortar. Symbols, of course, have meaning, but our country is the people with eternal souls. One day the USA will come to an end and all nations will be gathered around the throne of our prophet, priest, and king: the Lord Jesus, some will be resurrected to be condemned in connection to their sin and rebellion against Jesus and others will be glorified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
In light of this truth, how does a believer love the living souls with whom in God’s providence he or she has been born or brought into close proximity with under these stars and stripes? We must consider the greatest commandment as articulated by Jesus in Matthew 22, “Loving God completely and loving neighbor as ourselves.” With this requirement, Christians are called to far more than just being a “good neighbor” as defined by modern American standards. Love of neighbor entails more than just keeping a nice looking yard so the property values goes up for everybody, paying our fair share of taxes, voting on election day, and a host of other duties related to our society. If we are more than material, that is, men and women who have body and soul, then loving our neighbor will certainly involve caring for his or her soul. The question then is, how does one love another in a way that nurtures his or her soul? I want to assert that the beginning of soul love in our country must contain “catechismal, confessional connectionalism.” We must consider who we know (particularly those whom we serve: children and subordinates) and seek to lead them to embrace the biblical content articulated in the Westminster Catechisms and Confession. You might scoff at the notion that a collection of nearly 400-year-old documents could be the key to loving our country. If that is you, then I ask you to go read it again (or for the first time) with your bible in your other hand. It will quickly become apparent why these documents are treasures. Skip to the bottom of the page for links and then bookmark them and work through them now.
At the beginning of my copy of the Westminster Standards from 1860 is a letter written to the countrymen in Scotland by Scottish ministers titled, “To the Christian Reader especially Heads of Families.” See the following quotation from it,
“As we cannot but with grief of soul lament those multitudes of errors, blasphemies, and all kinds of profaneness, which have in this last age, like a mighty deluge, overflown this nation; so, among several other sins which have helped open the flood-gates of all these impieties, we cannot but esteem the disuse of family instruction one of the greatest. The two great pillars upon which the kingdom of Satan is erected, and by which it is upheld, are ignorance and error; the first step of our manumission from this spiritual thraldom consists in having our eyes opened, and being turned from darkness to light, Acts 26:18. How much the serious endeavors of godly parents and masters might contribute to an early seasoning the tender years of such as are under their inspection, is abundantly evident, not only from their special influence upon them, and frequent opportunities of being helpful to them; but also from the sad effects which, by woeful experience, we find to be the fruit of omission of this duty….
Concluding this thought after citing numerous positive examples of instruction to souls such as the grandmother and mother of Timothy, they conclude, “to nurse up the souls as the bodies of the little ones; and as their pains herein was great, so was their success no way unanswerable.”
I agree. I believe we need to refrain our Christian duty of loving our country to include this component of loving our neighbor through soul nurture. I believe the future blessing of our nation rests in families and particularly upon heads of households doing exactly that which those Scottish ministers were pleading: nourishing the souls of little ones. This could be those in our households or any person of whom we have influence. The key is that souls are hungry and that they will be fed with something, let’s make sure that it is nutritious.
Thomas Manton said, “I, therefore, desire, that all masters of families would first study well this work themselves, and then teach it their children and servants according to their several capacities. And, if they once understand these grounds of religion, they will be able to read other books more understandingly, and hear sermons more profitably, and confer more judiciously, and hold fast the doctrine of Christ more firmly, than ever you are like to do by any other course. First, let them read and learn the Shorter Catechism, and next the Larger, and lastly, read the Confession of Faith.”
Click the links to check out the standards of our church. Do you think the Scottish ministers were right? If so, the greatest investment you can make for your country may be in the care of the soul of the little ones, and our God has not left us without great tools by which to bring the doctrine of the Bible to them.