Aug 2nd, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 89 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to be talking about Christian citizenship.
There are so many ways that humanity divides itself and looks for ways to create conflict. Most days I feel like I’m being punked when I see the fury and the fight people put into quibbling over their differences. It seems like people, even Christians, will find any reason to be divided.
Imagine with me, if you will, The President of the United States wants to send a very important, but simple, message to another country and all forms of reaching out have failed. So, The President orders his team to gather a huge group of representatives. The President wants to make sure his message is heard so he orders that the group be as diversified as possible because he wants to ensure that there are no barriers to stand in the way of the message. They ask for volunteers who believe in the message from the larger group and whittle it down to an elite group representing every possibility as far as diversity is concerned. The President then delivers the message to these dually appointed ambassadors and sends them to the country in question.
Before the group even gets a chance to deliver the message, they segregate themselves into groups resembling each other; race, gender. Then within those groups they become splintered over their political beliefs. The larger group reshuffles over politics but within the new groups they remain distant over their physical differences. These new groups are even further splintered by disagreements on how best to share The Presidents message with some maintaining they’re not even sure anymore that the message should be shared. When they finally get the chance to share the message it falls on deaf ears due to the conflicting and accusatory nature of the relationships between the ambassadors and the different versions of the message they brought.
What I’m talking about is this, 2 Corinthians 5:20 CSB says, “ Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ's behalf: ‘Be reconciled to God.’” We are ambassadors and Christ is our commander in chief. The simple message of ‘Be reconciled to God.’ Is lost on so many due to our behavior and mixed messaging.
I hear the objection that Christianity is a religion, not a race or nationality, so the analogy doesn’t work, but 1 Peter 2:9-10 CSB tells us, “ (Christians) are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that (we) may proclaim the praises of the one who called (us) out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once (we) were not a people, but now (we) are God's people; (we) had not received mercy, but now (we) have received mercy.” That’s not how we act though. We need a major reset in thinking across the board.
2 Corinthians 5:16-19 CSB says, “ From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!  Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.  That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.” This is the lens through which we must view the world, as a place of those who are our kindred and those who need to know that reconciliation with God is within their reach.
Hebrews 13:14-15 CSB tells us, “ For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.  Therefore, through (Christ) let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.” That word “city” is a correct translation, but it lacks the substance that the original language carried. This is the Greek word pol’-is, and it conjures up images of a walled city that needs to be defended and protected, even to the point of war, against outsiders. Basically, the scripture is saying that we don’t have a dog in the fight where this world is concerned. We’ve got no skin in the game. This isn’t our home.
However, while we are ambassadors of Christ, need to view the world through this lens, and don’t have a dog in this fight, there is a balance to this. Hebrews 13 goes on in verses 16-17 CSB to advise, “ Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.  Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Romans 13:1-2 CSB reflects this same sentiment, “ Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.  So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.”
For Christians the overall point is this, we are Christians first, loyal to our governing authorities second, and all other details of identity come after this and have a lesser importance. In our tumultuous times this should be the anchor that holds us firm.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”