In 18th century western Europe, they coined a term for one who had blind, aggressive loyalty to the fatherland without regard for its underlying principles - freedom, liberty, compassion, faith, service and justice. The term was patriot, and it was actually a term of derision and insult.
Thankfully, in our day and our country, a more noble meaning is attached to the word. New Englanders and fans of Tom Brady are happy about that. I am too, even as a Cowboys fan. But I am especially happy because I consider myself a patriot. I love my country!
Still, it seems that many are working as hard as they can, maybe unknowingly, to devolve the word patriot to its original meaning. There has been a sad decline back to the idea that a true patriot is one who gathers with others just like themselves, circles the wagons and looks out for their own so that what they have is not taken by dark, sinister forces. The guiding value is an unhealthy, indiscriminant self-interest fueled by pride, fear and insecurity.
So as not to be misunderstood, I am not referring to a particular political party or ideology here. This kind of fear-baiting and marginalization of the other in the name of patriotism functions quite well on both sides of ideological lines. This degrades and devalues the meaning of what it is to be a patriot in America. And for those of us who follow Jesus, nothing could be further from the values of the Kingdom which we love, serve as thankful ambassadors, and in which our true citizenship resides.
That said, my prayer is that the tide begins to turn on this one. And may we who call ourselves patriots in this day remain faithful to our nation's founding principles rather than the weak tribalism of us vs them, and may we never surrender the current meaning of the word patriot back to its ignoble beginnings. And as we do, may God bless America!