Lessons from 2020: Citizens of Heaven
Loyalty is a desirable trait. Patriotism, loyalty to country, is admirable. Betrayal of country is treason. Loyalty is determined by law. The punishment for treason can be imprisonment or death. Christians are intensely loyal to country. This is because Christians are first loyal to God. It is by God’s authority that nations are established and governed. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake (Romans 13:1-5 NKJV). Christians obey law because in so doing, we are obedient to God.
Christians only deviate from law when the law of man contradicts the law of God. Jewish rulers insisted that the apostles cease to teach the gospel. This clearly contradicted Jesus’ edict to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:26-29 NKJV).
The Christian’s primary loyalty is to our King and to the spiritual nation to which we belong. We are only temporary residents of this world. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:9-12 NKJV).
Yes, we love our present country and are loyal to her. However, we understand that our true citizenship is in heaven. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:17-21 NKJV).
Abraham understood this. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:8-10 NKJV). We wait for the same city.
Be patient. Have faith. Be loyal.