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Be thankful for what this country has been in the past and pray for what it could be

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Dan ParksOn Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend 2014, a ray of enlightenment graced our sanctuary. Elizabeth, our piano player (from the Isle of Wight) was playing prelude music when Mary (raised in Canada) said "God Save the Queen."

In the midst of our usual patriotic offerings (The Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, Battle Hymn of the Republic, etc) Elizabeth had inserted a patriotic song, which still holds meaning for she and Mary.

In the brief but insightful interaction that followed, we discussed the often overlooked fact that men and women from many nations have sacrificed for the freedom of others. We citizens of the U.S.A. don't have a corner on that venue. We are simply some among many.

As I look back on that discussion and forward to our Fourth of July celebrations, I'm considering this question. What are some biblical guidelines that can help us embrace a healthy perspective of patriotism?

I offer these four and encourage you to come up with some of your own.

Our first allegiance must be to God. Any allegiance that places nation over or equal to God is a form of idolatry.

A love, for and appreciation of one's country is healthy and important. We call that patriotism.

An attitude that views one's nation as superior to other nations and that despises other nations is nationalism and isn't in keeping with God's view of the world.

God loves, offers salvation, and wants a relationship with all the people of the world (John 3:16). God has only two groupings of people — those who have received his offer and those who haven't yet received his offer.

Our pledge of allegiance reads "One nation under God." I understand that ideal and wish for its truth. But when God looks down from heaven, I believe he sees a bigger picture (One world under God)

On this Fourth, while we roast dogs and set off fireworks let's celebrate and be thankful to God for what this country has been and pray for what it can be.

Yet as we celebrate, let's not lose sight of the fact that Jesus loves all the people, all the people of the world. Red and yellow. black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves all the people of the world.

Dan Parks is the pastor of Prineville Christian Church. He can be reached at 541-447-7603.

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