Our Missional Citizenship
Within all of the foundational documents of the USA, there is no statement that begins with: “The purpose of the United States of America is…” Instead, the closest type of statement is found in the Preamble to the Constitution. It reads:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The purpose of the “this Constitution for the United States of America” is to establish a society of persons living together for the common goals of justice, tranquility, defense, welfare, and liberty. The ideals were obviously guided by and, in many ways, borrowed from the Scriptures. It is the closest we come to a purpose statement for the USA.
As Christians and citizens in this country, we are beneficiaries to the privileges of living in it. However, we are not beholden to it. Even in its historic greatness as a philosophical and political construct, we hold a greater citizenship to Christ’s kingdom. Our eternal citizenship is to determine how we live in our temporary citizenship.
1. We must learn how to live by the mandates that spring from the life of Jesus.
As our rightful King, we must follow two mandates from His life. Jesus lived with a cultural mandate seen in Luke 4:16-21. On the Sabbath in Nazareth, He publicly read from Isaiah regarding the year of the Lord’s favor as it relates to the hurting and outcast. It is a pattern repeatedly shown in His life. As His people, we should follow Christ in the work of delivering justice and comfort to those pained by the world’s afflictions.
Jesus’ life also exemplified an evangelistic mandate which He spoke of in Luke 19:9-10. After working redemptively with Zacchaeus, Jesus announced why the Son of Man had arrived: to seek and save the lost. We are participants in His ministry to find those who are lost and lead them to the Savior.
2. We must heed the missional sending by Jesus.
After His resurrection, Jesus finds His followers (including the 11 remaining apostles) hiding in a locked room because they feared for their lives. At His appearance to them, He says in John 20:21, “Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” It is a stunning statement. In the same way and for the same mission that the Father sent the Son, our King is now sending us. His mission that must rule our day.
But what normally rules the day of a human? We allow fleshly pleasures to take a hold of our actions. Political and cultural values creep in to rule over our minds. Personal guilt carried from times past and present gnaw for our allegiance. With their unfulfilled promises of satisfaction, we must allow God’s mission to take its rightful place. Allow the sending nature of our King of glory and grace to rule your life.
3. We must participate in the missionary work of the church.
As Christians, we are not normal citizens. 2 Corinthians 5:20 teaches us, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: ‘Be reconciled to God.'” Our ultimate allegiance has changed and we now represent a new kingdom. Rather than give our whole lives to the temporary kingdoms and political structures of the world, we should spend our lives representing the one true King.
But we know that confrontation with the world’s powers are inevitable. Shortly after the launch of the church’s ministry, the governing authorities demanded that the apostles stop preaching the gospel. The church had its answer in Acts 5:29.
Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people.”
When the early believers in Thessalonica faced an angry mob of those opposed to the gospel, it revealed the kind of life we are called to live in this statement by the rioters in Acts 17:6-7
When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, and Jason has welcomed them. They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus.”
As Christians who are citizens of the United States of America, you have two of the most powerful political devices known to human history: you vote as an American citizen and the ability to possess an American passport. Because of these, here are two encouragements.
- As a voting citizen, use your political influence to advocate for justice and your political liberties to advocate for the Gospel. The church should stand in the public square as the conscious of a culture that will abuse its own people. Use your voice to stand up for the Gospel and righteousness.
- As a citizen with an American passport (and you should all get one), use it to travel to places where the Gospel is not yet known. In very large and rounded off numbers, there are thousands of people groups who have little to zero witness of the Gospel among them. According to Pew Research, among the 7.3 billion people in the world, only 2.3 billion are Christians.
Our mission is to make disciples of all nations. May we hold tightly to our role as an ambassador for Christ as we live in the temporary empires of the world.
Click here to listen to my sermon on this subject at First Bradenton.