Kingdom without a Country
Occasionally, I find myself in a discussion with other Christians concerning the relationship between church and government. I am aware Christians are often inconsistent in their behavior in this respect. When I was a young minister a rather conservative member of the church I served supported a political candidate with glaring moral flaws because he promised to fix a road that led to his farm.
However, I find the majority of devoted believers are willing to put their personal needs aside for higher ideals. This is why what happens in government is important, and why we care about the personal positions our leaders take on moral issues.
In the interest of full disclosure, I need to share a couple of my own perspectives on this topic. First, I am a strong proponent of the phrase “God and country,” but perhaps not as understood by some. We can’t make our country “holy” by using God’s name, any more than we can call ourselves Christians because we have a fish on our car bumper. Yes, we want God to bless our country, and we want to pursue godly principles as a people, but God doesn’t belong to our country. Our country belongs to God. He is in charge of every nation and no leader rises or falls without His permission (Daniel 2:21). This means we must be very careful how we use God’s name as we seek to justify our collective actions. I am pretty sure God isn’t amused when we claim He has blessed something specifically condemned in His Word.
Secondly, I am thankful for, and forever indebted to those who have preserved my liberty throughout the generations. I am not happy about everything that happens in my country, but I am glad I’m free. In my humble opinion, Christians who mock the concept of country and patriotism because they think they are taking the high spiritual road are…well…just plain nuts. The fact that my country protects my most basic right to pursue my own destiny is something I must never take for granted.
But with this said, we still need to understand the Kingdom of God can never be equated with any man-made political system. I am all for promoting a system that is friendly toward the Kingdom. Yet, if we are in Christ, we are citizens of a greater country. In Philippians 3:20 the Apostle Paul wrote, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)
This means we should not be surprised when the world turns against the church. Yes, sometimes the church is responsible for her own trouble when she acts unwisely. But no one should fault the Lord’s people for standing their ground on moral issues, or seeking to spread the gospel. This is, after all, what has been commanded (1 Peter 3:17, Matthew 28:19-20). The church is persecuted because she calls out sin and speaks truth. It is only natural for those who want to design their own style of morality to dislike her.
How then, do we respond to our culture? If we have opportunities to change laws to reflect biblical morality, I think we should pursue them. Man-made countries are not the Kingdom of God, but there is no reason why we can’t honor God in the way we govern. And if biblical morality produces a place where our children and grandchildren can experience greater joy, why would we not want the best?
We should respond with confidence. The Lord holds sway over all other kingdoms. He owns the outcome of history and works in the midst of sin and corruption. Sometimes Jesus is the only reality that brings hope, and we must let our world know He is still on the throne.
It is important that we not give up on the world. It bothers me when people write the world off because they feel the end is near. The end might be near, but if it is, then that is all the more reason to share the love of Jesus with lost people. If the time is short, we should ramp up our efforts instead of throwing up our hands. However, as I understand scripture, none of us know when the end will come, so we should simply keep doing what we are called to do and let God take care of the details only He knows.
If we are in Christ, we are the Kingdom. His Kingdom is in us, and everywhere we go we represent Him as Kingdom parcels.
The Kingdom of God is not an earthly country, but an earthly country can welcome the Kingdom. And regardless of what happens in society, the Kingdom of God remains. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” (Isaiah 54:10)
Be the Kingdom!