In talking about my sense of American patriotism, rather than American nationalism, a friend suggested that I sounded like a globalist. My friend was right: I am a globalist for the very best reasons. I draw a distinction between patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism, I believe, is a healthy love of one’s country, a love that is willing to appreciate all that is good while also critiquing and challenging all that is not good. For instance, I love my native land’s lofty ideals about human equality and freedom, yet I struggle with my country’s long practice of human slavery and its continuing racist tendencies.
A nationalist, on the other hand, as I see it, tends to elevate one’s nation above all others and see it as better than others and worthy of uncritical allegiance. As a follower of Jesus, I cannot give that kind of allegiance to any nation.
What, then, is a globalist? Simply, as I understand it, it is putting the welfare of all peoples above any national, sectarian, or partisan interest. Here are a few of the biblical passages that inform my convictions.
Genesis 12:3 (repeated in various ways in Genesis 18:18, 22:18, and 26:4) “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” To put it far too briefly, Israel’s original calling was to share the good news God had revealed to it and be a blessing to all nations. The prophet Jonah embodied Israel’s long tendency to mistrust the other, the foreigner. Even when Jonah finally obeyed, his heart wasn’t in it and he stewed and sulked when God was merciful to Nineveh. So many of the writings of the Old Testament prophets call Israel to task for becoming in-grown, insular, fearful of the outsider, and poor representatives of God. Isaiah 56:7 says, “…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16 is one of the most memorized verses in the Bible, and rightly so. Let’s believe it and live accordingly.
Acts 17:26 “From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live….” Blood donor workers and blood donors know that blood types do not recognize skin color or national origin. While there is tremendous diversity in the human family, reflecting the creative genius of God, all human beings are related and made of the same stuff.
Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The newly risen Lord makes clear the global mission of the new Church. This is echoed in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Revelation 7:9 “After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.” We look forward to the day when this description will be our reality. “Come, Lord Jesus.”