Over the last several months I have had to rewrite my faith. I had become firmly convinced that there are certain qualities about my faith that were not in alignment with Godís word. The sad reality was that I was singing and praising God all the while clinging to this worldís ways. What was more sad was that I proclaimed these were my rights as a citizen of this country and more frightening my duty as a Christian. I have come to the realization that being a Christian is not the same thing as being an American. We as Christians need to be very careful about what we make most important in our lives.
Let me begin by first explaining that being a citizen of this country is not a bad thing. Paul often used his citizenship of Rome to protect him from harms way (see Acts 22:25-29). However, this did not mean that Paul saw his citizenship as a Roman making him a better servant of Christ. He never spoke of this citizenship as something that all Christians needed to obtain. You never once saw him speaking of the duties of his Roman citizenship. Now, I understand that Rome was a great deal different than America. Rome was pert near a dictatorship whereas we elect our leaders. However, our right to elect our leaders does not equate to Christian duty (more on this momentarily).
The bible does not teach a great deal about how Christians are to view their governing officials. Christ was the first to address the matter when he told the Jews to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesarís and the things that are unto God we are to render unto God (Matt. 22:21). This I imagine did not go over well with the zealots of the 1st century. Christ told the Jews pay their taxes. Paul and Peter alike taught that the government was Godís sword against the wicked (Rom. 13:1-7; I Pet. 2:13-17). As such Christians should not really fear the government. Now, I realize that governments can and have persecuted Godís people. The point here is that God put them into power to punish the evil doers. Peter even taught that we are to honor the king (I Pet. 2:17). That of course would again be something that zealots would not have cared to hear. Speaking evil of the king, something zealots did a lot of, is the opposite of honoring him. The modern parallel is shows us that we need to be careful how we talk about our President.
But these are things Christians should already know. And these are not the passages that led me to my faith changing revelation. While I can hope that my citizenship as an American can provide me protection from the government (as Paul did), my citizenship should not demand my undying loyalty. Paul taught that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). And as citizens of that kingdom, we are therefore not to consider ourselves citizens of this one. We often talk about how God translated us out of one kingdom and into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13). We talk about how that as citizens to that kingdom in heaven we cannot be citizens of another kingdom any more. As such, we need to realize that whatever happens to this country it should not shake a Christianís faith because in the end it is not his country. To be honest, we should view the politics of this country much like we view the politics of Sudan, Ecuador or Turkey; that is we donít consider their laws and regulations relevant as we are not citizens there. Remember that Abraham lived in a tent and not a permanent dwelling because this world was not his home. He looked towards a better country. Brethren, so should we.
Along these same lines, I have seen Christian Americans spend countless hours defending their rights. In recent weeks I have seen more commentary by ďChristiansĒ on their rights to own a gun than I have on their faith. It seems more and more ďChristiansĒ are more concerned with whether their representatives, senators, or president have read the constitution than whether or not they have read Godís word. Many are praising the fact that the constitution was read in the house and yet no one is making a push that a single portion of Godís word should be read. Godís word on honesty, murder, what makes a person a living being, what makes one great and service could all be useful among todayís lawmakers. Brethren, the issues we should be most concerned with are not the things of this world. Whether a Christian owns a gun or not will not determine the outcome of his immortal soul. Brethren, whether or not we have a righteous man representing us in Washington or a wicked immoral man will not determine the outcome of our immortal soul. What will determine the outcome of our immortal soul is how much time, effort and energy we expend in bearing the fruits of righteousness. I guess what I am really trying to say is that perhaps we are spending too much time talking about the politics of this world and not enough time talking about the great King in Heaven. -WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Are You a Christian or an American?
Volume 4 Issue 10 February 10, 2013