The Fourth of July not only celebrates our nation’s birthday, but it reminds of our United States citizenship.
Just because we are US citizens does not mean everything is coming up roses. In a divisive climate such as exists today Christian citizens find themselves increasingly battered because of our beliefs. Ever been called a war-monger? I have because I support strong national and personal defense. Does the label “Bible thumper” sound familiar because you respect life no matter how large or small? Shoot, even Christians gathering in small groups have caused unwarranted controversy in communities across the fruited plain. That’s the bad news about our earthly citizenship, but the GOOD news is that we have dual citizenship in heaven!
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:20 NIV)
As we slowly wave good-bye to many of our national freedoms, we can rejoice that our freedom in Christ grows as we seek Him. The ultimate freedom lives strong in a believer’s heart and mind. Sure, we experience frustration as earth dwellers, but nothing can squash what we have in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote the epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon from prison. Freedom is an attitude that wells up from within and cannot be bound.
Citizen Believers and Non-Believers
Not all American citizens are Christian. There are non-believers who, despite not believing in the Divine Creator, respect His system, but there are others who have not respect, whatsoever. When people have standards that vary so greatly, there is going to be strife. We Christians cannot expect non-believers to share our views, but that doesn’t mean we should compromise ours. However, many Christians do.
A favorite Bible verse Christians like to toss around these days IS a good one: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land,” (2 Chronicles 7:16 NRSV). I’m not a theologian, but God only asks for HIS people to humble themselves, and when they do He says He will heal their land. He doesn’t give a call to action to those who disregard Him . . . but, obviously, it is important for believers to acknowledge Him and His ways. I suppose that if all us professing Christians will humble ourselves, healing is possible. Are we towing the line for the freedom we want? If we do, great things are possible.
Faith in Jesus provides believers with something far greater than any man or nation can provide. This is particularly important to remember as we watch the systematic dismantling of our country. Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values which, although many will disagree with me, is a perfect system. However, the mere fact that man is imperfect guarantees its earthly implementation will be flawed.There is going to be strife.
Christian faith acknowledges that Jesus IS who He says He is . . . Lord and Savior. Too loose sight of the Son is to let the current state of our country depress us. It’s a natural consequence when we put our faith in man instead of Jesus. Yes, yes, godly men can have a profound effect on the path of our country travels, but even a good leader isn’t perfect like Jesus. Plus, their reach has boundaries . . . Jesus’ reach is eternal. Faith is freedom: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5:1 NIV).
We must trust God no matter what our earthly reality looks like. I’ll admit that for many months after the 2012 elections I struggled to not be depressed. But, every day that the sun rose in the east and set in the west reminded me that God is still in control no matter who rules our country. I may not be able to trust government officials, but I can sure trust God! That keeps me sane and joyful despite the craziness in our country. Trusting God is freedom. I’m not shackled by fear. Uncertainty? Yes. Fear, no (even though some days are harder than others). “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 15:13 NIV). Hope, joy, and peace, is freedom when we trust God.
As we celebrate this country on July 4th, celebrate what is good. The USA is a city on a hill where many come to escape the bonds of their own homelands. Celebrate the men and women of our armed forces who are the epitome of the BRAVE so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have. Rejoice that, for now, we are able to worship our Lord openly. Also rejoice in your dual citizenship, because no matter WHAT circumstances we face now or will experience in the future, our FAITH in Jesus and our TRUST is God will be there to see us through.
©2013 Shona Neff