For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

God, Country and our True Citizenship

I just recently picked up the latest cd offering from John Schlitt, best known perhaps as the lead singer of the legendary Christian rock band, Petra.  I’m thoroughly enjoying it, but one song has got me thinking a little bit.

It’s a patriotic song of sorts called Faith and Freedom, and it simply states that with faith and freedom, we’ll make it through all adversity, etc.  I like those kinds of patriotic thoughts and feelings, but it’s the very first line of the song that really got my attention.  He starts out by declaring that he is not only American, but a citizen of heaven, too.  That’s a very crucial truth. 

There has been a lot of talk in the last couple years about immigration laws and what it takes to be a citizen of this nation.  The reason it’s such a big deal is because being an American citizen is such a big deal.  This is the greatest nation on earth, I truly believe that.  And I understand why so many would want to be a citizen of this great country. 

But as great as that is, it’s secondary to our true citizenship.  In Philippians 3:20 Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven.”  I know we know that, but I’m not sure we always think of the implications.

For example, if my true citizenship is not here but heaven, then this world is not my home. In Hebrews, speaking of our predecessors in the faith, it says that “they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.”  They were aliens here; foreigners.  We read that same truth in several places in God’s Word.

Why, then, should we spend a great deal of effort and energy on the things of this world when we understand the truth that this is not our home?  We have a home waiting for us.  And we ought to be focused on that.  We ought to be thinking of our true kingdom.  We ought to spend more time and effort on the things of that kingdom than this.
But how often do we miss that simple little truth?  The way we spend our money, the way we spend our time, the way we focus on temporal things, people would get the idea that we thought this was our home. 

Furthermore, not only is this not our home, but it is not our master.  It is not our master in the sense that it is not the pattern for our lives, that governs our lives; and it is not our master in the sense that this world is not who we answer to.

Paul says in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world.  Plainly put, we don’t think like they think, we don’t act like they act, we don’t talk like they talk; we don’ live like the world lives.  Again, something we all know, but something we often fail to live.  But if we are truly citizens of heaven, we must live according to a different pattern.

If we are citizens of heaven, it ought to show.  We spent the early years of our marriage and ministry on a Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.  When we moved there we stood out like a sore thumb.  We looked different, we talked different, we even thought different; because we were from two totally different cultures.  The Sioux culture and for lack of a better term, the white culture, are two very different things.  And it’s easy to tell who comes from where.

As Christians, we are the representatives of a different culture.  We are kingdom citizens and we should live our lives according to a different pattern than the rest of the world, because ultimately we answer to a different Lord and King.

Then, maybe most relevant in this election years, remembering our true citizenship reminds us that the world is not our hope.  We are citizens of heaven and that verse in Philippians goes on to say that we are eagerly awaiting a Savior from there.  We are looking forward to the day when He will return and He will make all things right and He will give us glorious resurrection bodies that will live forever in the presence of God.  That’s our hope.  That’s what we’re living for.  This world has nothing to offer that even comes close.

Now, let me put this in perspective.  We should be engaged in the world around us.  God has left us here for a reason.  The Savior we are awaiting has not returned yet for a reason.  There is still work to be done here.  And we should be about that work.  And while we’re at it, we ought to be the best citizens of this land that we can be.  Part of our testimony to the world is in being exemplary citizens, which means being part of the political process.

But we have to be careful in not getting too caught up in that. If we get too caught up in that, we begin to believe that our hope is in this world, or in this nation, or in this or that candidate.  And if that’s the case, we’re in pretty poor shape.  You know it’s bad when people discuss the presidential choices in terms of the “lesser of two evils.”  Sad, indeed.  (Of course, why vote for the lesser of two evils when you can vote for “Goode” – as in Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party candidate, but that’s another post!).

If presidential politics were to be my focus, I’d be feeling pretty hopeless.  But, folks, this world is not where our hope is.  It doesn’t matter who the President it, Jesus is still King.  God is still God.  I like the way Voddie Baucham put it.  In his book Family Driven Faith he writes, “God is God.  He’s not running for God, and He doesn’t need your vote (or mine).  He was the only one around when the votes were cast, and there will never be a recount.  God is God.”

He is the King of Kings and Lord of lords and His rule will never end.  That’s where our hope lies.  Not in this world.  As much as I support our troops, and as much as I support the war on terror, and as much as I get involved in backing this legislation or opposing that legislation, I know that none of this is my ultimate hope.  Ultimately, this world has nothing lasting to offer.  Our only hope is in Jesus Christ and His grace.

It’s great to love our land, and sing of its virtues, and celebrate our freedom and so on.  As long as we keep things in perspective.  As long as we remember that ultimately, this world is not our home; it’s not our master; and it’s not our hope.  Instead, our citizenship is in heaven. And we “eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  (Phil. 3:20-21)

May our lives be different.  May we live each and every day in a way that honors our true King and country.  And may He receive all the glory. 


Steve Fox said...

If you identify your citizenship base on the bible then what would be the reason of establishing your citizenship here.

Immigration Law

Scott said...

We are still in this world, just not of it. Paul claimed his Roman citizenship on more than one occasion. We still work within the systems of our day, and I am thankful to have the gift of being American, even though it is secondary to my citizenship in heaven. Thanks for stopping by.