Made for Another World: Responsibilities of Citizenship

We are all about travel and immigration here at The Inspired Story this week, so let’s finish it up well with the responsibilities of citizenship, the conclusion of the Made for Another World post from Tuesday. If you haven’t read that one yet, start there. Because you should start with the benefits before you get to the responsibilities, amen? 

 

Photo by John C. Abell via flickr

Photo by John C. Abell via flickr

According to the US government, there are responsibilities of citizenship, expectations of citizens that keep the country functioning safely and properly. Presumably there are also responsibilities for citizens of the eternal Kingdom, but I’m going to go ahead and say: these responsibilities are not reading your Bible and praying every day to earn your Passport stamp into Heaven. In fact, the first half of them just have to do with an attitude towards the Kingdom. So don’t go accusing me of creating a to do list for earning your entry ticket into heaven. First, this isn’t about a someday entry: the Kingdom is now and forever, so best start now. Second, these responsibilities? These are the ONLY listed responsibilities of US citizens. And two of them are only “as needed”. This shouldn’t be a to do list but a privilege, an opportunity to take part in the Kingdom now.

These are the listed responsibilities of US citizenship that are unique to citizens.

Responsibilities of Citizenship:

1. Give up all allegiance to prior nation:

This is a big deal. This is giving up your old passport, your old claim to home. Your home is the United States now, where you will go in a crisis is the United States, the only place you get the short line at immigration is here in the US of A.

This is also a big deal in the kingdom of heaven: there are no dual citizens in God’s kingdom. If you wish to be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, you can have no further allegiance. The Kingdom is your home now, it is where you will go in a crisis, and it is the only place you get the short line at immigration :). In fact, once you’re in, I don’t think you can emigrate back out (but maybe that’s just me).

2. Swear allegiance to the United States:

Of course, this echoes number one, but the fact that this is essentially listed twice is a demonstration of how important this responsibility is. The reason citizens get the short line at immigration is because their homeland trusts them to pledge allegiance to the country and therefore not be arriving with criminal intent.

The same is true of the Kingdom of heaven: we get the short line because we have already sworn allegiance to the Kingdom  and they recognize our credentials (or rather, the credentials of the only one qualified to enter who brought us Home on His sacrifice).

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3. Support and Defend the Constitution and Laws of the United States:

This is probably, in my opinion, overly applied, especially in the American church. We are called to support and defend the laws of God, however, we are also called to serve the church and bring others in and love the world, and I think this needs to be in balance with that. Serve and defend the laws against misinterpretation, prejudice, and false teaching within the Kingdom? Yes and amen, we are called to that. But serve and defend against the world? I think we may be seeking out war in the name of peace.

4. Serve the Country When Required:

Obviously, as an American citizen, this applies to the draft. As a citizen of Heaven, I think we are always required to serve the Church, which is part of the Kingdom here (the embassy, if you will). I have American students whose parents are in foreign service here in Mexico and I’m planning on doing a future post about the metaphor of a foreign service post as our lives as Christians in the world, but for now, recognize that we are responsible to serve the Church and the interests of the kingdom even while we are in this world.

 

How  can we live as citizens of the Kingdom now? I think Micah may have summed up the Kingdom responsibilities as succinctly as anyone ever has with his ever popular, “Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” With your God, because this Kingdom is here.

We’re already through customs and all our checked bags were lost (too bad). We’ve changed our Passports and sworn our allegiance and found that we weren’t issued a Passport out of here because this is our home now. 

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

 

World without end, Amen.

 

I’m linking up with Kirsten Oliphant’s Not So Small Stories today. Check out the other wonderful posts here!

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4 Comments

  1. Interesting thoughts, and I’m glad you’re writing about these issues because I think they’re important. I generally feel like we American Christians aren’t too good at giving up all our other allegiances. No dual citizenship means we give up our American citizenship too, no? As well as allegiance to our various “tribes” (ethnic, cultural, political). Very difficult.

    1. Agreed, and especially realizing that allegiance to God means God above country, not God and country is hard for some Americans. Thanks for your thoughts Katie!

  2. These were really good thoughts and I feel like I’ll be mulling them over for a while. Reminded me of the verses in 2 Corinthians about being an ambassador. I love the idea of no dual citizenship and examining how we often have our allegiances confused.

    1. Thanks Kirsten! One of my students’ parents works with the American ambassador here, and it has been so fascinating to learn about how life works for government workers in foreign service. Did you know that they are not allowed to stay in a country (other than the US) for more than 3 years because the government is afraid they’d develop a stronger allegiance to that country than to America? So fascinating (and so hard for them and their kids).

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