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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




This World Is Not My Home

By Paul E. Grabill
June 26, 2011

I have a confession.

I used to listen to talk radio. A lot.

And, I used to get frustrated. A lot.

I was frustrated and angry about what those folks were doing to my country. What in the world did they think they were doing?

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize at the time that my attitudes and actions were not consistent with God’s Word. Neither was my lack of joy consistent with the attitudes of the Early Church nor our Pentecostal founders a century ago.

What was their perspective regarding their national identity?

Was it more in line with the lyrics countless Americans sing, “God bless America, my home, sweet home”?

Or, was their mindset closer to a song I sang growing up in church?

This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door,

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

What we sing is so important. It often shapes our doctrinal views as well as our emotions.

So, which is our home? America, heaven, or both?

Well, in some ways the answer is “both,” but a delicate balance must be maintained.

Is it possible that we as Christians can lose our joy by getting too attached to this world? Is it possible we can forget that we are citizens of a different Kingdom? Indeed, can Christians get out of balance and become too patriotic in the nation in which they live?

I think the answer is yes. In fact, I sometimes wonder if this may be the main reason we Christians preach, speak and sing so little about heaven today. We seem to be quite at home right here.

However, what helps us appreciate our dual citizenship is an understanding that we are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20, KJV).

In the secular realm, an ambassador realizes that he lives on foreign soil. He represents one kingdom to another.

His home, however, is not where he temporarily lives. He respects the laws, understands the culture, and may even pray for the prosperity of the land to which he is assigned. But he never calls it home. He may even have favorite restaurants there and often speaks the language, but he always yearns to return to his true home.

His first loyalty is always to his native land. Should that be exceeded by his loyalty to the land to which he has been sent, he becomes of limited use.

Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world. And 1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world” (NIV).

So what might help us to be sure that our patriotism doesn’t go over the top? Let me suggest five questions to help us determine whether or not we are in balance.

 

1. Do we weep for lost souls more than we take pride in our national victories?

War is a most difficult arena, but as believers we recognize it involves many people entering a Christless eternity — people Jesus died for, people we are called to love and reach. When we watch our national enemies being killed, do we love them as enemies (Matthew 5:44) or do we rejoice in their deaths?

 

2. Do we recognize that lost Americans are in bondage?

The sharpest disagreement that Jesus ever had with the Pharisees was when He asserted that they were not free (John 8:31-36). Such an assertion, then and now, may not be politically correct, but it is certainly biblically correct.

Americans who do not know Jesus are not free. Just like an inmate serving a life sentence but who has come to know Jesus is freer than a billionaire without a relationship with Christ, so too, believers in totalitarian nations are more free than Americans without Jesus.

Even the light held by the Statue of Liberty grows “strangely dim” in the light of Jesus.

This does not mean we are not grateful for the level of political and economic earthly freedom we enjoy. But we recognize this has no eternal consequence without Jesus.

In fact, if we do not use the religious and economic freedom we enjoy as Americans to further the worldwide spread of the gospel with every opportunity that presents itself to us, then we have squandered those earthly freedoms.

 

3. Within our nation, are we known for loving our political enemies (as Christ commanded)?

One of the most deceptive elements of hyper-partisanship is that it tends to alienate us from the very people we are called to reach with the gospel. The more we shout in the public square that they are messing up our country, the less they are open to the good news of the gospel. Sometimes all they seem to hear from us is bad news — that they are the problem; that they are sinners; that we are angry with them.

Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it (John 3:17). It’s condemned already by the curse of sin. He came to seek and to save the lost. Jesus was a friend of sinners.

It’s OK to be angry with the deceiver, but we must have compassion for his victims, just like we once were (1 Corinthians 6:11).   

 

4. Do we recognize that biblical prophecy gives no clear role to America?

Teachers of biblical prophecy have long noted that while there are abundant passages in Scripture that refer to national Israel in the end times, there is no clear reference in Scripture to America.

Some have speculated whether that means America does not exist or becomes irrelevant when Christ returns. We cannot answer such questions from the silence of Scripture, but we should understand that earthly kingdoms come and go. Isaiah 40:15 reminds us that the nations, including America, are but a “drop in a bucket” from God’s perspective.

God’s kingdom, on the other hand, is eternal.

 

5. Do we expect the world to be perfected before Christ returns?

Though Jesus clearly called us to be “salt and light” in this dark world, we can easily be seduced into thinking we must bring about Kingdom values everywhere before (or even without) the Lord’s return.

Furthermore, if we attempt to do this by “might and power” and not by the Spirit of God, we may find ourselves unequally yoked with unbelievers of our political persuasion.

Although historically revivals have often brought about massive social change, they have done so by the transformations of human hearts, one at a time.


True change is, first and foremost, spiritual change. Moral people make our lives less challenging, but without Jesus, they are still lost. We could have a moral nation, but still a very lost nation.

We need more than Christian heritage; we need Christ-filled hearts.

It is our responsibility to be informed voters, and yes, some believers are called to elective office.

However, we must always remember: The only true answer is Jesus, the Lamb to whom our ultimate allegiance belongs.

With joy, let’s raise His banner high. Yes, even higher than any other.


PAUL E. GRABILL is lead pastor of State College (Pa.) Assembly of God and assistant superintendent of the Assemblies of God PennDel Ministry Network.

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