Not of this world

In a sense, I do not belong here.

I am a proud Canadian, but I belong to God first.

So far, that is not an issue for me or my country.  But, it is for many Christians around the world.

We live in a world where people often demand allegiance to the group above all, sometimes to the point of death.  This is the fuel for war.

Patriotism – willingness to sacrifice myself for the good of my country – is a noble idea.  But it depends heavily on what my leaders think and demand of me.

Are they asking me to renounce my faith?  Are they asking me to do something that is contrary to what God wants as laid out in scripture?

In many countries, that is the issue facing believers today.

I believe these pressures are growing and spreading – and the democratic West may not be immune.

I like the approach the apostle Peter takes in 1 Peter 2: 11-14.  For me, it balances our allegiance to God and our duties as citizens of the country we live in.

Peter says that we are “temporary residents and foreigners” in this world.  As Christians, we already have one foot in heaven.  Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, not earth.

Yet, for our time on earth, we are to “submit [ourselves] for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men”.  He then points out that our governors are sent by God to “punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right”.

But the Bible also makes clear that when our earthly rulers oppose God, we are to stand up for what we are to believe.  The stories of the prophets show that this often means believers suffer imprisonment and even death.

As a Christian, though, I am not to react with the weapons of this world.  Peter says in 1 Peter 2:15 that it is God’s will that “by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men”.

Love is always God’s greatest weapon.

In the end, the kingdom of God is strongest when it is under attack.  The rapid growth of the Christian church in a hostile Roman empire is ample proof.

As a Christian, I know that my eternal destiny is with God – a god of love and peace and joy.

There is nothing better than that.

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