Citizenship in heaven

Citizenship in heaven-flattenedPaul told some folks, “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). That may be a strange concept to some. And it may hit a raw nerve for others. Our citizenship, our nationality is for many people everywhere perhaps their most cherished identity. But then at the same time they will say they are Christians. Or Jewish. Or Muslim. And most, let’s say many, don’t see any clash at all between their professed faith in God and their nationality.

Patriotism is a very strong force in the USA, probably more than in many countries. I’ve met a number of new friends here over the last 6 months who are both extremely patriotic while at the same time being exceptionally serious about their Christian faith. They are very aware of current events here. Many feel the USA has already moved far towards a totalitarian state. They believe the original freedoms and rights that the country was founded upon are being eroded or are just plain gone. There’s talk of taking a stand, of fighting for liberty.

But this is where the discussion turns intense and focused. What exactly should one fight for? What are we? Is it a matter of just standing up for a cause? Which one? And for many of us, it comes back to our identity. What are we?

my kingdom is not flatPilate asked Jesus if He was a king. And Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36) And this is where our conversations turn to when my friends and I discuss these things.

You don’t have to be a Christian in America to be extremely patriotic. Certainly there are millions of exceptionally patriotic Americans who are not Christians or for whom their faith is a distant second place to their allegiance to their country. But what about for a Christian, one whose life is centered around their faith in God and in Jesus?

I’ve written a few articles on this web site previously on this subject. I wrote “Proud to be an American” about my experiences while outside the USA for 36 years as a missionary and some times when I felt proud of my nationality. consumer citizen or disciple-flattenedAnother article was “Consumer, Citizen or Disciple” which traced the history of our identity and how people in America and elsewhere see themselves now.

Roman persecutionBut this dilemma, this conflict of interests has in history brought some believers in God to stark, immediate choices. If you read the history of Christianity, many early Roman Christians were brought to the place where they had to show allegiance to the Roman Empire or face death. Immediately. Countless numbers chose to take their stand with Jesus Christ and the God of Abraham, rather than to an earthly king and country. Of course we always can think, “That can’t happen here, not in my country! We’re too advanced for that, too intelligent, too sophisticated, too modern.”

For me personally, over 40 years ago I had to decide what would come first in my life and how I would see myself. I had to know that my allegiance to Jesus Christ and my citizenship in heaven had to be the most precious thing for me and what I felt was worth living and dying for. Since that time I have lived in over 40 countries as an ambassador of the kingdom of God and I have no regrets about that.

But for many here, this is a time of deep heart searching. Some even question if they should take up arms to defend what they see as their inalienable rights. But I don’t think I’m supposed to do that. That’s not the battle I’m supposed to fight. And I question if any sincere, consecrated Christian is supposed to take up earthly weapons to fight an earthly war for worldly goals. I don’t believe that’s the battle I’m called to and I feel many American Christians are going to be sadly shocked if they go that direction, to take up arms against their country.

Prophecy fulfilled flatOur calling is to stand up for the truth of Scriptures and perhaps especially to use the weapon of the truth within Bible prophecy to share with all we know the condition the world is in today and the soon possibly beginnings of the final events of the endtime. I feel it is there that the Lord will meet us, is even waiting there for us, to be His salvation army of true witnesses to what has been foretold in prophecy for over 2000 years, of the final events of the endtime before His coming.

That’s a battle worth fighting that we’re destined to win. Those with true faith in God will find their strength and calling and victory, not fighting earthly political battles to save their nation but fighting the good fight of faith for the truth and for lost souls everywhere. It is written, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

6 thoughts on “Citizenship in heaven

  1. What about taking up arms to protect your wives and children, elderly relatives, and friends from large roving gangs of hoodlums who will laugh in your face as they go through your neighborhoods in the coming rampage when there are no jobs or money, and famine sets in. When they come in to rape, kill, and torture your wife and little ones right in front of your eyes laughing with “demonic glee” as has happened so often in so many countries…? Do we shoot them? This is not clear to me in the Bible. The subject is painted with “too broad a brush!” I just can’t see allowing that to happen, but I agree with you on the idea of not taking on the govt. Rev 13 (Here is the patience and the faith of the Saints… he who leads into captivity will go into captivity, he who kills with the sword will be killed with the sword…) But there does seem to be a difference here. I simply could not stand idly by and watch this happen to my family without fighting back the best way possible, and at my age that would be with a shotgun or .45! (.44mag will work fine too!) (“The BIG BANG theory!”) I HAVE TO AGREE WITH THE “MACHINEGUN PREACHER” in the Sudan! When those goons working for the oil barons of the Sudan came through in the back of their Toyota pickups armed with AK-47’s and RPG-7’s to slaughter more innocent, unarmed black African Christians, they got one “HELL” of a surprise! I just think this is a much more complicated issue than only having two sides to it. There are many factors and variables. I believe we should defend our own. Now a govt. edict: That’s different, like Rome, but roving gangs of bloodthirsty mobs…? Sorry… BULLET IN THE HEAD! GOOD MEDICINE! Just my opinion, – God bless you Mark, -john

    • Hi John, good to hear from you. Thanks for the comment on “Citizenship in Heaven”. There were a number of very valid points you bring up and scenarios you mentioned which provoke deep thought and prayer. I didn’t feel at all that your comments were adversarial but just the thoughts and feelings of what might be millions of American Christians. I think what I will do is to use your comments as a springboard for another article which may be titled “ A Strong Man, Armed” which of course is part of a quote from Jesus. I think this is an important subject and timely for so many. Thanks for your comments and for bringing these other sides up. It’s good to hear from you, I hope you and yours are doing well.Your friend in Him, Mark

  2. Even though I dont live in the USA, if riots and big problems arise in my neighborhood, I am of the conviction that my spiritual weapons will support me in this case, and they will be more than enough to overcome my enemies, unless the Lord wants to take my life and my family-s life to Heaven.

    The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save.Zephaniah 3,17

    This is more than enough for me.

    Andres Nueva Vida

  3. Hi there Mark, I was recently in Thailand and attended a church service. The pastor there read out of Rev 14 and shared a testimony and personal lesson he had learned regarding reading the newspapers opposed to reading the Word, and his lesson was that we have to look beyond the immiate politics and concentrate on the Heavenly perspective and our mission. It spoke to me, as I have also gotten too much involved in the immidiate and letting politics take too much a part in my mind instead of concentrating on the Lord and our mission and seeing things from a heavenly perspective. Thanks for your writing. Love Steven

  4. Thank you Mark for your articles about christian life and discipleship . That’s true and quite a serious subject about using force to protect our beloved. Few days ago my wife and I were invited to a theater to watch the latest movie of Mel Gibson ” Thou shalt not kill ” (I guess it’s the right translation from the French title of this movie). There is a real witness in this true story about being a pacifist Christian and an American patriot at the same time . The main character in the movie has decided to save lives instead of taking lives because of a traumatic event in his youth. Although I don’t agree with armies invading other countries for different good or bad reasons, I still prefer peaceful and humble stands with enemies. An American missionary friend told me that Irak invasion by US armies is God’s will to prepare that country for the spreading of the Gospel there! I answered to him “What would have Jesus done? “Dear Mark what a question it is? If you have any commentaries or anybody else have, let us share more about His answers ! God bless you, Paul Newheart

  5. Hi! Me again! Of course I will do my best to protect my beloved family first of all if necessary like the verse “But first do good to everyone but especially to those of your own household of faith” Galatians 6:10

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