To say that we live in turbulent times is a vast understatement. The year 2020 brought so much upheaval and suffering that most people were glad to see it fade into the pages of history. However, the calendar may have changed, but the problems we face remain the same. I write this about a week-and-a-half after zealots stormed Washington, D.C. and occupied the capitol building. It is less than a week until we will see a new president inaugurated after a brutally contested election, the results of which are still being disputed by many. Our current president has just been impeached—the first president to be impeached twice—just days before his term expires. COVID-19 still rages—the current surge of the virus is not letting up, and the rollout of the vaccine has been painfully slow. Add to this mix the economic problems and the racial turmoil that plague our nation and you have to admit that we are living in troubled times indeed.
Aren’t you glad that the kingdom of Jesus is not of this world? That’s right. You haven’t forgotten that, have you? In John 18:36, Jesus says, “…My kingdom is not of this world…” Many people misunderstood that in Jesus’ day. They wanted to crown him as an earthly king, but he would have no part in that. Jesus and his disciples avoided the politics of the day, choosing instead to focus on the kingdom of God rather than earthly kingdoms. Christians today would do well to learn from their example.
Don’t get me wrong here! I firmly believe that we Christians should be involved in politics. With the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, we should practice discernment as we choose our representatives on the local, state and national levels. Christians should use their votes to try to put godly men and women in places of influence. It is a very important way that we can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
However, we must be reminded that Jesus very clearly says that his kingdom is not of this world. We must live in this world, but we are not of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. We live on a higher plane. While we are constrained to obey earthly authorities (Romans 13:1-7), our ultimate allegiance is to a higher power.
With all of this in mind, we should give careful thought to how we live our lives. Jesus says we should pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10). The Bible says that we should pray for our government leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-3), even the ones we did not vote for! But we also need to be praying for God’s kingdom to advance and for his will to be done. We also need to be living our lives as part of an answer to that prayer—living in such a way as to advance the kingdom and to display the will of God in our actions.
Our challenge is to live as though we take our citizenship in God’s kingdom even more seriously than we take our U.S. citizenship. I recently heard a preacher say, “We Christians ought to live in such a way that the government would consider issuing green cards to us so that we could continue to live in America!”
Be a good citizen of the U.S. Pray for our nation. Work to make this a better country in which to live. But more importantly, be a good citizen of God’s kingdom!