It feels as if we have been in a presidential election season forever. While we are still seven months away from election day, the candidates have been campaigning for what seems to be years already. Some in our culture are excited about their favored candidate. Others are distraught over not having a good choice among the bunch. What should be a positive process often degenerates into a frustrating exercise of choosing the least worst personality to lead a nation.
My citizenship in the United States of America comes with a great number of positives. I get a voice in choosing my leaders. Freedoms are given to me to speak my mind and express my religious values. I can seize opportunities and work hard to make a good life for my family. If circumstances become overwhelming, social safety nets are in place help me along. It is a wonderful place to live.
But it is temporary. My citizenship is in this country for only a little while.
When Peter wrote his first letter to the early congregations, he began like this in 1 Peter 1:1-2,
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen acccording to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. My grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Christians are merely temporary citizens in these places with geographic boundaries and cultural structures. The nations in which we live do not define us any longer. We live here for a while but now belong to a greater kingdom.
There are many words to describe our existence now. Immigrants. Visitors. Migrant workers. Now, we are just passing through. We are ambassadors for our true King as we speak and work on behalf of Jesus.
With such a perspective, it allows me to let loose of those things on earth which will not bind me in heaven. Living in a country where freedoms are abundant, I can use them to stay active in God’s mission. Peter was writing for a very different reason. Those receiving his letter were not free but severely suffered. He offered encouragement about their ultimate citizenship so they could persevere under the temporary persecution.
If you are free, use your freedoms to proclaim the gospel. If you are persecuted, use your hope for what is to come to proclaim the gospel. As Peter wrote, we are set apart from this world “for obedience.” As we walk in the power of the gospel, may we all sense God’s grace and peace multiplied in each of our days.