According to the Bible, people have gathered themselves together based on language since the time of the defunct Tower of Babel just before the worldwide Flood (Genesis 11:1-9). From that time we have segregated ourselves on the outward appearances of skin color, ethnicity and language. Nationalism is an infection of the human heart.
Whether British, Babylonian or Bolivian, we get angry and even go to war when someone doesn’t respect our national anthem or flag as we feel it ought to be.
If you’re a Christian, you are a citizen of Heaven and have a closer connection to other Christians in Liberia and Lithuania than you do to any unbelievers among your family, friends, or fellow-patriots. Even Jesus claimed more in common with believers than with His own mother (Matthew 12:46-50)!
Never, in any place, have I been made to feel more welcome than among Kenyan believers. As a mzungu (white man) in Kenya, I am the extreme minority. For some Kenyans, I’m the first white man ever seen in person. My white skin has scared babies and I’ve seen Kenyans drive their bicycles into bushes at seeing me. Yet, I have never once felt out of place or looked upon as different in Kenya. Among believers, I’m judged in the exact same way that I judge them: as a child of God.
Yes, as citizens of Heaven we are also citizens of earthly nations, but these have never determined how God looks at us. Outward appearances should never decide how we receive or treat others (2 Corinthians 5:12). We should assess by whether the heart is transformed by personal faith in Christ Jesus. This doesn’t mean that we don’t see differences, but that differences don’t determine how we feel, think, or act toward others.
Every time our nationalism, political views, skin color, culture, language, or any other outward difference becomes the basis of how we size-up others, we fail to live up to the heart of God.
He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:27-28).