I've been a part of numerous churches that celebrated American Independence Day with abandon: 80-foot flags hanging from the ceilings, singing the "Star Spangled Banner" and "I'm Proud to Be an American" and even— most disturbing to me as I reflect back—saying the Pledge of Allegiance during our corporate worship.

If some visitor had asked us on those Sunday just what we were worshiping, I think that might have been a very perceptive question.

For many, the Fourth is about gratitude for the blessings of freedom. And as far as that goes, I'm in complete agreement—though to see only the "blessings" of freedom and not also repent of all the many varied and creative ways we've abused it might be a bit short-sighted. Still, yes to gratitude.

For others, these celebrations go beyond merely the gratitude and obedience that Scripture commands, into something else, something entirely absent from the God's Word: Patriotism.

Patriotism, defined as "devoted love, support, and defense of one's country; ...

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