Citizenship

THE POWERS THAT BE

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Romans 13:1

True, God ordained the powers that be or authority as far back as the days of Adam and Noah and Moses. Some of the first civil laws given in those days have served as the basis of some of the human laws we abide by today. Human laws and human government were both instituted to regulate man’s life on the basis of the standard of what’s considered to be right and wrong.  But arguably the most popular (and misunderstood) scripture on authority, Romans 13, has inappropriately been used to oppress humanity in the name of God. So, true, in God’s plan He provides for authority, but, He’s not responsible for their actions. In fact, if those in power get out of line, they will be judged by God, the Highest Authority of all.

It is important to grasp that the men and women in power are not God’s servants in government unlessthey do what is right by the people they govern. The Bible outlines the duties of those in power, that they should use their power toLearn to do good; Work for justice; Help the down-and-out; Stand up for the homeless; and Go to bat for the defenseless(Isaiah 1:17). No civil servant should fool themselves to believe that aside from the kind of good work that God recognizes, that they are doing God’s work.

On Change

If change in government needs to occur, it’s up to humans to make it happen. After all, God doesn’t vote nor does He run this fallen world. As believers, we have dual citizenship, meaning that we’re citizens of heaven and of the earth. But since earth is our current home, we cannot have our eyes so fixed on Jesus that we don’t look horizontally at the fact that who’s in government and how they govern matters. We have to live in this world and as agents of salt and light, we have to use our influence and our standards to expose darkness with our light. We are not dishonoring God’s command when we speak truth to power or when we do not align with or embrace their ways, but instead we are bold, keepers of a higher standard, and are following a long history of doing the same. Think Moses to Pharaoh and the Three Wise Men to King Herod and the Apostle Paul to King Agrippa. I don’t know about you, but like them, I would rather obey and honor God than men (Acts 5:29).

Civic Duty

Since human government is part of God’s moral government to preserve human society on the earth, as citizens of the earth, it is our duty as such to establish, maintain, support, and engage in human government. We should not only vote in every election, but we should also offer our input and serve in public office as we are led and graced to.I know some people have reservations about discussing politics because of our differences of opinion and or party affiliations, but it’s our perspectives that invite us to reason together and solve our most pressing issues. So, it’s not really about politics, it’s about improving the lives of people. Even more, if those in power refuse to reason together, they do a disservice to those they’re charged to serve.

On Submission

No doubt, we are subject to the governing authority, but we are not called to submit to what God does not stand for. We are to speak truth to power graciously, but assertively and consistently. I leave you with a point made by Dr. Martin Luther King, meanwhile confined to a Birmingham Jail, on Christians being subject to authority:

“One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

Citizens of Heaven

Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. Philippians 3:17-20

When I focus on earthly things–cares of this world, senseless tragedies, I am concerned, anxious, and upset. In the midst of my unsettledness, God elevates my thinking and reminds me that this ain’t home. I’m not home here on earth, I’m going home to a celestial place that is prepared for me and all those who love God and accept His Son, Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to go home just yet, however majestic, magnificent, and perfect it is. I’m just encouraged by the fact that, heaven is going to reduce this “momentary affliction” of a lifetime of constantly being between two extremes– trouble or tranquility, heartache or happiness, sorrow or joy to its proper size–so small, so temporary when compared to the eternally “far more exceeding weight of glory” that is to come (2 Corinthians 4:17 KJV). So, I am a citizen of heaven, the highest ground, a place whose God we will all one day, bend our knees before and declare our total allegiance to, above this country, above this world (Romans 14:11 NLT). So take heart, be encouraged that, the trouble, heartache, sorrow all serve as reminders that there is a better place that those who believe are destined to go.

Thank God that, this ain’t home.

Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.” John 14:1-4 The Message