“For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:14-16 (NRSV)
My eldest child was born while I was a graduate student in Canada. As such, she has both American and Canadian passports, a fact that she is quite proud of and quick to share with others. Though she only lived in Canada for the first year of her life, she for years would be quick to say “I’m Canadian!”
However, as the years have progressed, I’ve noticed that sentiment seems to be less and less frequent. A decade of living in the United States has slowly but surely shaped her. Though she still carries both passports, they are not equal. In her outlook, values, and loyalties, she is an American with a Canadian passport, not the other way around!
Whatever your nationality may be, if you are a child of God, you are a citizen of his kingdom. And while you are also a citizen of the kingdoms of this world, these dual identities are not meant to carry equal weight! As we spend time living in the kingdom of God, we are meant to be shaped and formed by the life of the Spirit in ways that make this an unshakable core identity. Other loyalties and identities may come and go, yet our status as citizens in his kingdom is eternal.
You and I live in two kingdoms and have a place in both, yet we must never conflate them, and most importantly, we must never misplace our allegiance. To be a citizen of God’s kingdom doesn’t mean you must live in a bunker and never leave, hiding from the ills and evils of society. Yet it does mean that the kingdoms of this world do not give you ultimate meaning, purpose, or identity. Pay your taxes. Vote in elections. Make a living. Seek the good of your city, but do not give the emperor what is meant for God alone.
“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”Philippians 3:20
While the kingdoms of this world are passing away, there is an eternal city yet to come. The kingdoms and governments of this world are not eternal. Though we are called to pray for the prosperity of the places in which we find ourselves and our work on earth matters, only Christ’s kingdom is worthy of our deepest devotion and highest concern.
The author of Hebrews reminds us to continually offer a sacrifice of praise and lives lived for the good of others. We give our lives away in love as a sign of God’s coming kingdom. In short, do not mix up your passports!
“Show me the coin used for the tax,” Jesus said.
When they brought him a denarius, he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:19-21).
Father, give us a vision of your coming kingdom, and help us to live daily within that kingdom as faithful citizens. Amen.
Which passport do you carry as your primary identity?
Psalm 48; Psalm 87:1-3; Hebrews 11:10, Philippians 3:20