I read an article about the crowded political pool of candidates vying for their party’s 2016 presidential nomination. The writer captured snippets of their candidacy announcement speeches (or Twitter posts). Here are a few that captured my attention. Candidate names withheld because—well, just because.
“We must save our country now. And we will do that by rebuilding the dream.”
“I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government.”
“I want to be president to protect our nation that we all love so much from all threats foreign and domestic.”
Do you hear it? The Call to Patriotism? Can you feel the stirring, the urging for you to stand up and own your citizenship? To awaken a sense of duty and responsibility based on your indelible rights?
But how? In everyday, practical terms, what does it mean to be a responsible citizen? I’m glad you asked.
Citizenship has meanings that are deeper and more subtle than legal permission to live in this country. It embodies one’s cultural attachment and devotion to his or her country. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) produced a publication entitled, “What are the Benefits and Responsibilities of Citizenship?” The Benefits (Rights) won’t surprise you: Eligible to vote, run for elected office, apply for federal jobs; travel with a U.S. Passport- allowing U.S. assistance when traveling overseas, and many more.
“Showing Your Patriotism” was also listed as a right, a benefit of becoming a U.S. citizen. In essence, the U.S. is saying, “We’re brag-worthy. When you’re one of us you have the right to brag, too.” It is a right worth celebrating. It’s a right to be able to wave the red, white and blue flag as a citizen of this country. Love it!
The Responsibilities of Citizenship weren’t all that surprising either. But to see it in print gave me pause, and you’ll see why in a minute. In sum, persons not born in the U.S. but desire U.S. citizenship must take the Oath of Allegiance, promising to give up all prior allegiance to any other nation or sovereignty; swear allegiance to the U.S.; support and defend the Constitution; and serve the country when required.
Did you know that God called us citizens?
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Ephesians 2:19 ESV
Our citizenship is granted- guaranteed when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior. And in so doing, as a citizen of God’s Kingdom (household), we also take an “oath of allegiance”.
You shall have no other gods before or besides Me. You shall not make yourself any graven image [to worship it] or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; You shall not bow down yourself to them or serve them; Exodus 20:3-5 (AMP).
As citizens of the Kingdom, we are expected to “support and defend” the Gospel (Philippians 1:7), and to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
But how? In everyday, practical terms, what does it mean to be a responsible citizen in the Kingdom of God? I’m glad you asked…again.
First and foremost- unlike in the U.S., we are not just citizens in the Kingdom of God. When we accept Christ, we gain sonship. And if a son, then, it follows that we are also heirs (Galatians 4:4-7). As sons within the kingdom, we have benefits (rights) beyond what is afforded to a citizen. Permit me to use Malia and Sasha Obama to illustrate my point.
Can we all agree that Malia and Sasha, as daughters of Leader of the Free World, can go places and meet people inaccessible to many of us? Can we agree that they are thoroughly protected everywhere they go? Is it safe to assume that when recognized, certain favors are granted them? That people act differently when the girls enter a room? I submit that as long as Malia and Sasha remain in close relationship with their dad, they will never worry about their provision or protection.
No, I am not just a citizen. I am the daughter of the One who created “the world and they who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1). I took an oath of allegiance years ago. The benefits (rights) of my citizenship-sonship gives me access to places and people. I am protected everywhere I go. Favor follows me. And I need not ever worry about my provision. This is my right. This is your right.
Are you taking advantage of your Kingdom benefits? Or do you simply see yourself as a servant within the Kingdom?
But with rights (benefits) comes responsibilities. In everyday, practical terms, as citizens, as sons and daughters- we are to attach and devote ourselves to the Household. We are to represent our Father, to love what He loves and hate what He hates. When I was young and went out with my mother, occasionally (wink) she had to issue a warning, “Don’t embarrass me out here.” It is the same with the Father. He would not have us contradict what we say we know and believe about Him.
Part of our responsibility to the Kingdom of God is to serve as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador is a diplomatic official of the highest rank who is sent out to represent and advance the interests of its sovereign body/nation. They are responsible for forging favorable alliances and to remonstrate wrong doings. They move and speak with the authority of their nation. To do injury to an ambassador is to insult the one who sent him (2 Samuel 10: 1-7).
We have been sent to this world to represent and advance the Kingdom of Heaven, to take dominion and influence the culture…and the politics. We are to care for the hungry, the widow and the orphan; to speak up for the voiceless and stamp out injustice in every form.
The responsibility is weighty. But we’ve been given authority and a Kingdom promise that nothing will hurt us (Luke 10:19).
Are you living, moving, and speaking in your Kingdom authority? Are you taking dominion in your sphere of influence?
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For [all of] creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him (Adam) who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8: 18-22 AMP, Emphasis Added
This is my Call to Patriotism to you. My attempt to stir you, to urge you to stand up and own your citizenship. To awaken your sense of duty and responsibility—knowing that the Father has bestowed indelible rights (biblical promises) on you.
Reveal yourself, son — daughter. All of creation is waiting, groaning, for your ambassadorship. Wave your flag!
Philippians 1:7 NIV, It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.
Romans 12:1 KJV, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Galatians 4:4-7, But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law, To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons]. And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba (Father)! Father! Therefore, you are no longer a slave (bond servant) but a son; and if a son, then [it follows that you are] an heir by the aid of God, through Christ.
Psalm 24:1 AMP, The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it, the world and they who dwell in it.
2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV, We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
2 Samuel 10: 1-7 AMP, Later, the king of the Ammonites died, and Hanun his son reigned in his stead. David said, I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, as his father did to me. So David sent his servants to console him for his father’s death; and they came into the land of the Ammonites, But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, Do you think that it is because David honors your father that he has sent comforters to you? Has he not rather sent his servants to you to search the city, spy it out, and overthrow it? So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved off half their beards and cut off their garments in the middle at their hips and sent them away. When it was told David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards are grown, and then return. And when the Ammonites saw that they had made themselves obnoxious anddisgusting to David, they sent and hired the Syrians of Beth-rehob and of Zobah, 20,000 foot soldiers, and of the king of Maacah 1,000 men, and of Tob 12,000 men. When David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army of the mighty men.
Luke 10:19 KJV, Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.