“Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly await the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
“No man can serve two masters. He must love the one and despise the other.”
Christians can only ever offer allegiance to God alone. We were born into various different countries and, by the command of God, we are to pay taxes and offer due honor to the authorities of our country, whether it be the United States of America or Iran or China. We are obligated, by the command of God, to obey the laws of the nation to which we belong, just insofar as the laws of the nation do not conflict with the laws of God. The instant they do, we are obligated to “disobey” them – they are no longer laws and have no more authority – all authority comes from God.
Ultimately, however, our citizenship is only in heaven. We can never be about our country. We are ambassadors of Christ and must always remember that fact. We must never be divisive about our country or our political stance within that country – if we are Christians, that is. If we are about God’s kingdom, we cannot be about the kingdoms of men, all of which are of the world, the same world in which we are but of which we are not.
Some people may be offended by my putting the United States of America in the same list with Iran or China. Such people I would like to ask to put aside their personal prejudices and any Biblical interpretations they may have been taught and think (of course, I want you to consider the Bible, but I want you to consider it through the Spirit, not through the personal agenda of whoever is your favorite Bible teacher). Nowhere in the Bible is the United States of America mentioned as a special nation. Jesus did not call the US, “a city on a hill.” The “founding fathers” did that. Jesus told Christians we are to be a city on a hill. The Church is the city on the hill, whether she is in America or Syria or Russia. As for the claim that America was founded on Christian principles, and is thereby a Christian nation, I do not see any evidence in the Bible for this position. Jesus never mentions Christian nations. Christians are in the world, but not of it. A nation is of the world. There is the Church, and there are individual Christians, not nations. As for the “Christian principles,” having a revolution because you want representation in Britain and you don’t want to pay taxes on tea or quarter British soldiers is not Christian. When Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” He was telling us to pay our taxes. As for quartering British soldiers, Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone compels you to go with him one mile, go with him two,” speaking of Roman soldiers pressing men into service to carry their armor. We Christians are not supposed to be concerned with our rights; we don’t have any. Whatever the secular justifications for the Revolutionary War, it was fought against Christian principles. Christian principles would have been to submit to the British.
Basically, the Revolutionary War is very much the same thing as that young Iranian standing up above the heads of her people in the street waving her hijab around on a stick. I do not admire her1; I pity her. She is a rebel. She risked her life for her desire to do as she pleases, for her perceived right to show off her hair. As Christians, we have no business praising her. When we identify ourselves with her rebellion, we are scandalizing the name of Jesus to Iran and the world. We are saying, “Christianity is rebellion!” We are disgracing the Lord Jesus, for the sake of our personal agenda, and putting the lives of our brothers and sisters on the line for our own stiff-necked insistence on our rights. Paul said he would become all things to all men, if by any means he might save some. He was not concerned about his rights. He was concerned about the concerns of his Lord. For the love of Jesus, who loved and gave His life for each one of us, Christians are called to lay aside all their notions of their own rights and submit to lawful authority, for all authority is established by God and we are to obey it not only to avoid punishment but for conscience’ sake – as I said, being established by God, it is only authority when it does not command you to go against the revealed will of God. However, nowhere has God ever told anyone not to wear head coverings! We are called to be only about the interests of our Lord, whatever cost to ourselves, to our pride.
Where is the United States now? Aborting millions of babies. All kinds of evil flourish in this country. This is the ultimate fruit of the spirit of the Revolutionary War. What was the cry of the Revolutionary War? “We have a right!” What is the cry of the feminists who want to kill their babies? “I have a right to do what I want with my body! It’s mine!” That is the cry of all rebellion. Essentially, it is what Satan told Eve in the garden. “… you will be gods.” In other words, you will have rights. What we see symbolized by the Revolutionary War and by that young Iranian is the same thing that results in millions of abortions.
When your nation asks you to give it the honor and allegiance due to God alone, confess, “Jesus is Lord.” When your pride tells you to do what you want or stand up for what you think is your right, confess, “Jesus is Lord.” If you are a Christian, you are a citizen of heaven. You are called to die to yourself every day. Whether that means submitting to a law that galls your pride or being burned alive as lights for Nero’s gardens. Jesus is Lord.
You can be about nothing other than Jesus Christ. “No man can serve two masters.” You cannot serve both your nation and Jesus Christ. You cannot serve both your pride and Jesus Christ. If you will allow your rights to be trodden underfoot, you can glorify the Lord in your life and death, as Paul writes is his eager expectation in Philippians 1. Otherwise, you will glorify only yourself and repeat the sin of Eden with every breath.
Many will not like this. When God says, “Go to the right,” we go to the left. When God says, “Go to the left,” we go to the right. We are rebels by nature, unless God redeems us. We want to stand up for our rights against the world, when God tells us to forget about our rights. We want to submit to the world and tread the honor of our God underfoot when God tells us to stand up before the world for His name.
What should stand out about you is that you belong to Jesus; His concerns are your concerns. As Christians, the concerns of the world are not ours.
“In view of God’s mercies, I urge you, brethren, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God; this is your reasonable act of worship. Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Then you will be able to prove what God’s will is – His good, perfect, and pleasing will.”
Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale
1Obviously, I don’t think that the laws and prison system in Iran is even remotely right.