The Bad News
The United States of America and Babylon have a lot in common. They’re both centers of economic and military might – the world powers of their day. They’re both religiously pluralistic. And they’re both morally bankrupt.
If you don’t believe me, name something about modern day America that reflects Jesus Christ. My guess is, you’ll have to reach into the past for something like ‘we used to pray in our school’ or ‘we were founded on Christian principles.’ But we’ve already seen how things from the past don’t make us who we are today. Who we are today makes us who we are today. And very little in modern America reflects the Gospel, Jesus Christ, or his teachings.
Instead of ‘Blessed are you who are poor’, American culture says ‘Blessed are you who are rich’ (Luke 6:20). Rather than say ‘ Blessed are the meek’, Western society says ‘Blessed are the proud and show-offs’ (Matthew 5:5). We’re tolerant toward sin, unrighteousness, and injustice while being intolerant of hearing painful truths.
America more resembles Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon than it does David’s Israel. On both sides of the political aisle, our government is corrupt – and openly!
It’s time for us, as American Christians, to face this fact. America is not the New Israel. It never was. It’s another kingdom in a long line of kingdoms that go back to Babel. Has God used America to accomplish his own purposes? Absolutely. Is it one of the best that’s ever come into existence? Yes. Has it had a history of trying to promote equality and freedom? Sure. Is there any other place I’d rather live? Not really.
But none of this changes the fact that America is a nation in the mold of Babylon.
If we’re going to live as Christians, we’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that America is not Christian. I know that’s a hard truth to come up against. But it’s the truth. And I believe most Christians realize it deep down. This is why her flagrant sins frustrate them so much more than the flagrant sins of other nations – America is supposed to be different. But she isn’t. And we’re forced to confront that fact every time we turn on the news.
So, Is There Good News?
Now, before you get all depressed and bent out of shape, let me tell you some really good news. It’s the best news you could possibly hear: There is a better nation.
Just because America isn’t the ‘New Israel’ does not mean that God has forsaken the world. He still has a people. But his people are the Church or Ekklesia.
And very often, America is utterly at odds with the Ekklesia. In fact, I would argue that every nation on earth is utterly at odds with God’s Ekklesia because every nation on earth expects its citizens to owe their ultimate loyalty to the state. But, as Christians, our allegiance cannot be to the state. It must be to God and his Kingdom.
So what happens when the state demands Christians act contrary to God’s Kingdom? Their true loyalty is shown through their actions. If they submit to the state, their loyalty was to the state and not to God. But if they resist the state’s demands and submit only to King Jesus – no matter the consequences – their loyalty to him and his Kingdom are manifest.
This is why there can be no dual spiritual citizenships.
Eventually, when interests conflict, our true loyalties will be revealed.
So What Does It All Mean?
If Christianity is going to move forward with power, Christians need to come to terms with these truths. We must see the Kingdom of God in its fullness. Not as something that only matters when we die. Not as something that we add on to our identity as Americans. Not even as something that we hold equally alongside our American citizenship.
Our citizenship in God’s Kingdom trumps all else.
Our identity in Christ must become our primary identity. It must shape what we think, what we say, what we do, where we go, etc.
And we have to be so careful about the culture in which we live because there are many things in modern America which seem like ‘common sense’ but, as Kingdom citizens, they are unacceptable.
The more we identify with any of the kingdoms of this world, the less we’ll identify with the Kingdom of God.
And the more we identify with the Kingdom of God, the less we’ll be able to identify with any kingdom of this world – even the United States of America.
To put it as simply as possible, for the Christian, no matter what earthly nation we reside in, we are foreigners and immigrants.
Do we live like it?
Next Time: Citizens of God’s Kingdom