When I heard that the government was advising us not to gather in groups larger than 10 people my jaw dropped. Now, it seems every day there are new guidelines coming out across our community. It might be tempting to disregard the warnings and guidelines coming out from our government. However, the question we should be asking isn’t, “What guidelines should I adhere to?” For believers, we have no problem submitting to whatever keeps our neighbor safe. The question we really need to ask is, “What does it mean to be a good citizen in this crazy moment?” In Titus 3:1-2, Paul writes to Titus:
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone
Essentially, Paul is telling Titus to instruct the people of God live as good citizens. This isn’t an isolated thought within scripture. Paul speaks about this idea in Romans 13 as well. I remember at a time in my life where I really wrestled with this idea. After all, I was called to submit to the Kingdom of God not any other country or empire. I’m a citizen of the Kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20). Why would Paul instruct us to be good citizens if our citizenship is elsewhere?
Several years ago I took a year out to live in England. I absolutely loved England. I loved the people, the church I served, and even some of the food. I even started dressing similar to my English brothers and sisters. If you saw me on the street, you might think that I had lived there my entire life. However, I was definitely not a natural citizen of that country. My friends knew it and I knew it. Even though I implored them not to assume things about Americans – people often assumed most Americans were probably like me. For this reason, I was always considerate as to what I might be saying through my actions and my words. I knew that I represented my home country in a foreign land.
Why should you be a good citizen in this time of crisis? We could point to a whole host of theological arguments surrounding this topic. However, it basically comes down to that you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God. As you live in this foreign land, what testimony do you want to offer the people around you about your true home? If we’re not careful, we might be offering our neighbors a poor picture of what it means to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
It’s at moments like these that the church can step up in our community and demonstrate how Kingdom citizens can bring healthy lasting change to our surrounding community. Eugene Peterson wrote, “So, why church? The short answer is because the Holy Spirit formed it to be a colony of heaven in a country of death.” Wow, powerful words. Our kingdom is not of this country or any country, but we are here. The local church is a colony of heaven.. What loving witness and testimony can we bring to the earthly citizenship we’re apart of?
By Blake Sherman, College Minister