Every flag hangs at half-staff as a constant reminder of the fractured state of our nation. For the first time in our nation’s history, a President has been impeached twice. Tomorrow the world will watch as we inaugurate a new President who will face a set of challenges unlike anything since Reconstruction. In the past two weeks my heart has cried out for America with the simple cry, “Lord, have mercy.” However, while my heart breaks for my country, it also aches for its true home. My passport may have been issued by the United States, but I’m still a resident alien. And I need to live like one.
Heaven’s Citizens Fight the Right Battles
As an adopted, redeemed, forgiven child of the Risen King, my citizenship belongs to His kingdom. Scripture testifies to this in numerous passages. Today, we’ll briefly look at three. First, consider 1 Peter 2:11-12.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe [them,] glorify God in the day of visitation.
As a citizen of heaven, I must remember what battle I’m really fighting. Many things have divided our nation and our churches—some just, some not. But are they eternal? I must engage in battles that put the kingdom of heaven first, starting with the war in my own heart. My flesh, which still swears allegiance to the prince of the power of the air, daily puts me at war. I can either indulge its desires and impulses, or I can do battle against them by the power of the Holy Spirit. I cannot be content with “good-enough” spirituality. I must continue the fight to pursue holiness. I must continue to put sin to death. And I must do so for the good of the kingdom.
Verse 12 admonishes the heavenly citizen to have “excellent” or “honorable” behavior amongst the Gentiles (i.e. unbelievers) so that they will have nothing to accuse him of but good deeds. The prophet Daniel is a sterling example of this.
By now an old man who had served numerous kings of two different empires, Daniel remained faithful to God, and God remained faithful to him showing favor by putting him in lofty political positions. This enraged his opponents, and they began to look for the “dirt” on the old man. They found none and eventually came to this conclusion: “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel, unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God” (Dan. 6:5). Daniel lived as a loyal child of Israel, loyal servant of the kings of Babylon and Persia, but always first and foremost as a loyal citizen of the kingdom of the one true God.
As a citizen of Christ’s kingdom, I must fight the right battles, those first of all within my own heart, and then live in such a way that I point the world to the King. I wonder if some of the battles we’ve taken up in the last year are accomplishing this goal. Does the way we’re bickering and lashing out point others to our true home? Would those around us have reason to accuse us on grounds other than our allegiance to the King of Kings?
Heaven’s Citizens Wait Eagerly for the King
The apostle Paul, writing under Roman house arrest to the church in Philippi, admonishes his readers,
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (3:20).
Citizens of heaven cannot wait for their King to return, and they live believing it could happen at any moment.
As the general election amped up this fall, I enjoyed keeping a sort of mental tally of yard signs as I walked around my neighborhood. That’s not to say I know how many of each candidate’s signs were displayed. Rather, I tallied how many of the signs for the same candidate were in any one yard. I believe the winner came in with five signs for their candidate of choice. They had a banner over their garage displaying the candidate’s name, as well as a smattering of smaller signs throughout their yard. Though I don’t know these people, I can tell that they were passionate about their candidate. I very much doubt that I could have had more than a five-minute conversation with them without hearing about how their candidate was going to win.
I wonder if we as citizens of heaven are so passionate about the return of our King. We don’t have to worry about His being elected. He’s already on the throne. We don’t have to worry about whether He’s really coming. God’s Word assures us He is. But does that affect our lives even as much as a political campaign? Do we look forward to it as much as we look forward to inauguration day when our candidate will take the oath?
I must admit that I often become so assimilated to this world, that I forget to live with anticipation for the next. If Christ were to delay His coming, most days that would be just fine with me. I’m happy here.
I need to retune my heart to my home country and my true King.
Heaven’s Citizens Sing Heaven’s Songs
Psalm 119:54 says simply,
“Your statutes are my song in the house of my pilgrimage.”
We, fellow citizen of heaven, are far from home, but we’ve not been left alone. In His grace, God has gifted us Himself, the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, comfort us with truth, and convict us of sin. He’s given us the Church, both local and global, a body of believers to sharpen us and help us fight against the enemy. And He has given us His Word, all that we need for life and godliness and to be made complete, fully equipped for every good work. Because we have these gifts, we live, work, play, and suffer differently—with a song.
I love that the psalmist calls God’s statutes his “songs.” Earlier in that same stanza, the psalmist says to God, “Remember Your word to Your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me” (vv. 49-50). In verse 19, he implores the Father, “I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me.” The writer of Psalm 119 recognizes that in order to survive his pilgrimage here, he must cling to the Word, his source of hope, revival, strength, and comfort.
Do you sing your kingdom’s songs, or are you more comfortable with the wisdom and rhetoric of the world?
Heaven’s citizens fight the right battles, dying on mountains only that point people to the King. They also remember that the King is coming and prioritize their hearts’ passions accordingly. And they sing the songs of their country.
Fellow countryman, we must not forget our home.