The crises our world faces challenges our faith. To what or whom do we pledge allegiance? This message examines the challenges to our true citizenship and the God given answers to what might otherwise undermine our faith.
[Steve Myers] It's certainly been a remarkable few weeks here, hasn't it? Events shaping up in our country seem to point to the fact that we can't go very long before there's another tragedy. Another crisis just seems to be unavoidable. It seems to continue to happen. Certainly, the coronavirus has kept us all separated. It's, in a way, stolen our freedom from us. We know that many lost their jobs and have been affected economically. But it tried to steal our confidence as well. And certainly, many lost their lives. Now, the page seems to turn and we have protests, and we have unrest over racism and injustice. And it certainly, is a reminder on this shaky ground of our country, where do you put your confidence?
In a sense, where do we really reside? Because it can be just downright demoralizing and discouraging, facing these types of things. And we can even be frightened of what's coming next. Because certainly, we know God doesn't want us to feel this way. But He wants us to have a different perspective. And even though we recognize this country of ours is in trouble, we live here. What are we supposed to do about it? I mean, we are citizens, right? And I remember the very first time I began to realize I was a citizen, it was all the way back in first grade. I was in Mrs. Sheenan’s class. And every morning when we would assemble together as those little first graders, we would recite the Pledge of Allegiance. So, she would have us all stand there nice and straight, and put our hand over our heart and recite the pledge.
And I can recite it to this day. I didn't grow up in God's Church. And so I was in a whole different world at that time. And so we recited the pledge. Every single morning of every day, we recited that pledge. And in fact, in our school, by the time I got to third grade, they changed things up a bit. And they would have a student come into the office and would recite the pledge and then all the classrooms in the whole building would recite the pledge. And so one day I got to do that, oh boy, that was so exciting to be able to go into the office and lead the Pledge of Allegiance. That's when I started to realize I was a citizen.
But if you begin to think about that spiritually, not just that I reside in the United States of America, but the fact that we are citizens, but we're not just any old citizens because we're special. And when we begin to think about it from God's perspective, it's not just the fact that I live in this country, that I am a person who resides here in the United States of America. In fact, when you think about being a citizen, something that kind of takes it to the next level, we've heard some of these things in the news, "I'm a patriot." That's one of those things that can incite a lot of emotion when you say those things. What does that mean? I mean, literally, when you say you're a patriot, it literally means you're a good citizen, that you love your country. That's the definition of a patriot. And when you think about being a citizen of God, do we have to be a lover of country? Do we have to be a patriot? A good citizen?
Of course, we do. But it certainly raises the question then, where am I at? To whom or to what do I pledge allegiance? When we recognize that, when we think of it from a spiritual perspective, there is no doubt, this world wants to undermine our citizenship, our spiritual citizenship. And we see these things happening all around us. We see it on the news. We get those notifications on our phones all the time lately. And it's, I think, a reflection of what we read so many times throughout the Bible. If you look over at what Isaiah prophesied about, Isaiah 1:4 Isaiah 1:4Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger, they are gone away backward.
American King James Version×, there is no doubt this world and its ways are undermining our citizenship from a spiritual perspective. Isaiah prophesied about that very thing. We read Isaiah prophesying here, and we recognize, okay, this was all the way back then to God's people. But see if this sounds like it applies today. Does this apply today as well as it did back in Isaiah's day?
Look at verse 4, Isaiah 1:4 Isaiah 1:4Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger, they are gone away backward.
American King James Version×, it says, "Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity,” that's lawlessness, sin, “a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They've forsaken the Lord, they've provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel. They've turned away backward.” That literally that saying they've turned their back on God. They've turned their back on God. The country had become corrupted. It was debased. It was infected. And Isaiah was proclaiming that very fact that they had turned their back on God. Does that describe our country today? I mean, we have experienced the blessings of Abraham, that God has poured out His blessings on our country. And yet, the answer to those blessings kind of are reflected right here in the book of Isaiah.
And it's something that continues and really wants to undermine us as well. We can't allow that to happen. We can't allow that to happen. In fact, I was reminded of a situation that I think is connected to this. I was reading the story of a lighthouse. And this particular lighthouse was called the St. George Lighthouse. It was a lighthouse that was built all the way back in 1833. And it was off the coast of the panhandle of Florida, on a little island called St. George. So that's why it was called the St. George Lighthouse. And built so long ago, it stood as a beacon to warn all ships of the danger around that particular Island. And the interesting part about this is that they made this thing to last. In fact, they said nothing would bring this lighthouse down. They drove the pilings so deep into that island, that it was not going to rot away, that it wasn't going to be at risk.
But even though the lighthouse withstood the storms, even though the lighthouse even endured hurricanes, erosion, and the constant beating of the waves, the shoreline started to disappear. And as the shoreline started to disappear, year after year, decade after decade, I mean, even though it lasted 150 years, ultimately, because of the wind, and the waves, and the erosion, the St. George Lighthouse fell into the sea on October 21st, 2005. But it was meant to last. It was supposed to endure. It wasn't supposed to be undermined by the sea, and yet it was. It was. And I think there's a connection here when you consider this lighthouse meant to shine the way, protect those that were traveling. Certainly, a reminder, we have to weather storms.
There are going to be spiritual winds and waves that are going to beat on us and try to steal our joy, try to undermine our faith, but we cannot allow our faith to be eroded away because that's what the world would like to do. It would like to undermine our citizenship. So as we think about this, let's consider two things this afternoon, two things that undermine our citizenship if we're not careful, two considerations to keep in mind so that that doesn't happen, so we're not impacted in that way. All right, first, it goes back to my first grade, our allegiance. Let's consider our allegiance. I pledged allegiance to the flag. At first grade, I didn't even know what I was saying. I didn't understand words at first. But when we talk about allegiance, where do we place our loyalty? Who do we trust?
When we look at Philippians 1:21 Philippians 1:21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
American King James Version×, the apostle Paul writes about our allegiance. Notice what he says here to God's Church in Philippi. He's certainly saying this to us, by extension. And as we note these words and we think about how this world's ways, this world's culture, this world's values, undermine our faith and want to overwhelm us, we have to take our allegiance into consideration. And Paul wrote this, Philippians 1:21 Philippians 1:21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
American King James Version×, he says, "For to me, to live is Christ." Do you think he was focused? Do you think he was determined? Do you think he recognized the challenges that come against us? He didn't even count his own life as worthwhile. Because he doesn't talk about me, Paul. He says, "You want to talk about living? Living is Christ." In other words, I've got to put myself so far away and get rid of myself, so that what you see is Christ.
That's all you can see is Christ. “To me, to live is Christ,” not just to believe in Christ, not just to say, "He's my Savior," no, but to have Christ living and shining through everything that we do. In fact, he even says then, “to die is gain." You know, because he could see beyond this life. He could see that beyond death would be the Kingdom of God. And so as a result of that allegiance that he had, it impacted who he was and how he lived. So, if you skip down to verse 27, you notice as a result of his allegiance, he says, "Let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ." You see, you can't just say the words, you have to live them, living, breathing, representative of Jesus Christ. He says, "So that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand first in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel."
So you think about that. Paul was living to serve God. And did he suffer the wind, the waves, the hurricanes that came against him? No doubt. No doubt. How many times it's recorded in Scripture that Paul suffered, and he was beaten, and he was bruised, and he was stoned, and he was shipwrecked? You see all of those things, and as he considered all of those things, all of those trials, none of those things had any meaning, except this overriding commitment to fulfill God's purpose, to fulfill the goal that God established, to keep His vision, to keep the mission that God had placed the apostle Paul on. And it was a daily kind of thing every single day to serve God and to live God's purpose for Him. That's what Paul was all about.
I mean, you can't say that he wasn't a true citizen, because he was. And it's no different for us because God has called us to be true citizens of His Kingdom. That's our calling. That's our calling. In fact, did we take an oath to that calling? We did. At baptism, we could say we pledged allegiance. We accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, our Lord, our Master, our soon coming King, and we were given the power of God's Spirit to overcome, and we pledged allegiance to our Almighty God, that we would obey, and follow Him, and live for Him.
I mean, I was amazed to find that when you become a naturalized citizen of the United States, they still make people take an oath. I was kind of surprised by that. I thought, "Well, by the time we get to these days, that must be long gone. That must be Ellis Island things way, way long ago." No, if you want to become a naturalized citizen, yeah, things have changed a little bit, but you still have to take an oath of allegiance to the United States of America.
In fact, I happen to have it here in front of me. It's interesting what it still says. Those that would like to become naturalized citizens have to take this oath and it starts this way. "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, any potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen." It goes on. "I will perform work of national importance." It goes on and ends. "I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion." And it ends with the words. "So help me God… So help me God."
You consider that oath and think about the spiritual oath that we took before God. What about our allegiance and renouncing any other loyalties, any other prince or potentate or state or sovereignty? You see as citizens of the Kingdom, that's what we did at baptism. We pledged our allegiance to God. And that means, now, we're citizens of the Kingdom. Almighty God is our sovereign Ruler. He is King, Ruler, Potentate over our lives. And I owe unquestioning love, and loyalty, and commitment to Him. That's our calling. That's our calling. And when you consider this land we live in, we live in a land of abundance so much.
But we also recognize there's an abundance of rivals that are competing for our loyalty. Who'd love to steal our loyalty away from God. And we cannot allow the tide of this world to erode our faith. And so I think we have to step back, especially as we kind of reset, and we reopen, and we come together once again, we have to ask ourselves, "Has there been anything that has been fighting against that allegiance I should have to God?" I mean, we're not just fighting some outbreak of COVID-19. It's not just injustice that we're fighting against. You know, there is something much more deadly. What's more deadly? Sin. Sins epidemic has infected the soul of our nation. And when we consider that, our apathy as a nation against Almighty God, our rebellion against Almighty God and His blessings, it's probably the worst offense that His creation could come up with. Because we act like He's not even there and we selfishly betray God. And yes, we find injustice and it eats away at our society, like an infectious aggressive cancer.
And so we find murder, and we find violence, and we find racism, and we find greed. And God doesn't look away. He has a pronouncement for our country and for this world for that matter. We can read about that throughout His Word. In fact, there's a stark reminder of that in Jeremiah 5:26 Jeremiah 5:26For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that sets snares; they set a trap, they catch men.
American King James Version×, let's read this particular one. We'll find there are so many examples where God says these similar pronouncements against the ways, the will, and the culture of our world. Jeremiah 5:26 Jeremiah 5:26For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that sets snares; they set a trap, they catch men.
American King James Version×, here Jeremiah is prophesying against Judah. And certainly, they were to be God's people. They were to show and shine, the fact that God was their God as opposed to all the pagan nations around them. But look what happened to them. And as we read these words, is this a reflection of who we are as a nation, as who we are as a world?
Jeremiah 5:26 Jeremiah 5:26For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that sets snares; they set a trap, they catch men.
American King James Version×, my version may be a little different. I'm going to read this from The Message. It's kind of a modern paraphrase. And so it'll be a little different than your King James or your New King James. But verse 26, begins this way in Jeremiah 5, it says, "My people are infiltrated by wicked men, unscrupulous men on the hunt… pretentious and powerful… Worse, they have no conscience. Right and wrong mean nothing to them. They stand for nothing, stand up for no one, they throw orphans to the wolves, they exploit the poor. Do you think I'll stand by and do nothing about this? Don't you think I'll take serious measures against people like this?" You see, this is a stark reminder that man's government cannot fix our problems. Mankind and its governments are at a loss for a solution because our problems are not political.
It's not a social problem. You see, the problem is spiritual. That's where our problems lie. And we sigh, and we cry, and yes, we pray over the state of our country. And yet, among all this, we must keep the mandate that we've been given. We must uphold the oath of our allegiance to Almighty God and keep that in mind because we are citizens of the Kingdom. That's who we are. And we represent Almighty God. And in fact, the apostle Paul references that in Philippians 3.
Let's turn over to Philippians 3:18 Philippians 3:18(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
American King James Version×. Here the apostle Paul wrote to God's Church in Philippi. You can imagine the apostle, here he is in the Roman Empire, he's at the heart of the beast. This is not a democratic society. This is absolute rule by a dictator. Paul faces that, notice his perspective, notice where his allegiance lies, and what he tells us as well. Philippians 3:18 Philippians 3:18(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
American King James Version×, it says, "Many walk of whom I've told you often, and now tell you even weeping, they are enemies of the cross of Christ." He goes on, verse 19, "Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, whose glory is in their shame— who set their mind on earthly things." You see, that's the wrong allegiance. That's the wrong perspective. That's the wrong priorities. This world is not what it's all about. We cannot set our minds on earthly things. And so he encourages us, verse 20, "Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." Now, if you are reading this in the King James, verse 20, says, "Our conversation is in heaven." That's a little different than your New King James. That word for conversation or citizenship, it's an interesting Greek word. It's politeuma, politeuma.
And if you look at that word, it almost looks like politics. In fact, that word comes from the same base word as the word politics because it's talking about our allegiance. It's talking about where our trust lies. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are citizens of the Kingdom. And we recognize that fact from the teachings of Christ. Christ Himself said that very thing. Remember what He said in John 18. "My Kingdom is not of this world. This isn't God's Kingdom. If it were, it would be a whole different story," Christ taught, but this isn't it. "My kingdom," Christ said, "is not of this world." And so we are politeuma of the Kingdom, citizens of the Kingdom of God. And so what we're saying is our allegiance lies with the Almighty. And so as citizens, let's think about that. Let's consider our allegiance.
As disciples of Christ, as citizens of the Kingdom, we reject the narrative of materialism. We reject the idea that things, stuff is going to somehow satisfy me. That's what this life is all about. The American Dream is what life… No, we reject that. We reject the values of this world because as disciples of Christ, as citizens of the Kingdom, we reject the narrative that somehow government has the answers. Does man's government have the answers? Of course, it doesn't. And so we reject the fact that some think the solutions to our problems are political. They are not. We reject the fact that some remedy could possibly come from the next election because it's not going to happen and we reject the notion that man's law and order is the answer. Man's law and order is not the answer. It is not the solution to our problems.
Now, does that mean? I'm not distressed by what's going on in it? No, I am distressed by this. And we hear all the arguments out there. "Well, what about the constitution? And what about this? And what about our forefathers? And what about all of these?" Wait a second. Is that where my citizenship lies? I mean, in the end, politics cannot impact our actions. They cannot. We need to live by the code of citizenship of the Kingdom of God, plain and simple because as disciples of Christ, as citizens of the Kingdom, we stand against sin in all its forms, injustice, prejudice, discrimination, whatever form it would take, we uphold The Law of God.
Now some might say, "Well, wait a second. We in America, we've got the best government in the world. It's absolutely the best." Okay, well, let's step back for just a minute. The best of what? I mean, think about the influence of this world. Who's the one that's deceived the whole world? Who's the one that really undermines everything? I mean, we could try to say, "Oh, we've devised such a wonderful system." Yeah, well, we've devised it under the influence of Satan, the devil, the god of this age. And so when we consider that, every human government has been influenced by Satan, the devil. And when we consider that, whether it's in its conception or whether it's in its application, we know, the devil, the dragon, lurks behind all of it. And as disciples of Christ, as citizens of the Kingdom of God, we recognize that fact. And we recognize the fact that, boy, I'd like to be able to control things. I'd like to be able to influence some of those, but I can't because I'm not in charge.
And when we consider that, as citizens, I recognize when I am weak, he is strong. I recognize the fact that God is sovereign. God is omnipotent. He is all-powerful. God is everywhere. He's omnipresent. He is all-knowing. He's omniscient. God is in control. He is in charge and He is taking note. And so, among all of that, like the apostle Paul, was saying, we cannot allow this world and its system to undermine our true citizenship. Our lighthouse of faith has to stand strong and weather all of these storms that continually come at us so that we constantly and continually pledge our loyalty. We pledge our allegiance, we pledge our commitment to God Almighty. Because by doing that, we can begin to relieve ourselves of the pressure of the undermining of our faith and our citizenship caused by this world.
Now, there's a second consideration, I think, as well. And that's our values. When we consider the value system of this world, the values that many of us had to come out of, we have to change our value system because the best that man has to offer doesn't measure up to God's standard. It doesn't. And so, the American dream, our culture, our society's value system, it's based on what I can get, based on what their measure of success, what their status is all about, what the image is all about. And it's based on independence. Well, for citizens of the Kingdom, we have to be dependent on God. Our life depends on God. And we have some marvelous examples throughout Scripture that testify to those who fought the system, changed their values. And we're living, breathing examples of those who overcame and didn't allow their faith to be undermined. We are all familiar with Hebrews 11. It is known as the faith chapter or the heroes of faith Hall of Fame.
If you look over at Hebrews 11, we can recognize what it was that motivated these individuals. And when we consider the values that they oftentimes grew up with and came out of, and where they ended up, wow, it is just an amazing testament for us. When we look at Hebrews 11, notice verse 13, after going through, men and women of faith, remarkable stories, we're not going to go into those stories, you're familiar with most of them. One of the things it points to as we come to a real summary of their lives, verse 13 in Hebrews 11 gets right to that point. It says, "These all died in faith,” no, they weren't undermined. “They died in faith, yet they didn't receive the promises, but having seen them afar off they were assured of them, they embraced them and confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on earth.” They knew where their citizenship lie. They knew the promises. They didn't receive them yet, but they could see them right out there in the distance.
And so verse 14, it says, "Those who say such things declare plainly they seek a homeland." Because this isn't it. This physical existence that we have right now is not our homeland. Verse 15, "If they truly had called to mind that country which they had come out, they would have an opportunity to return." You know, we let that country infect us that we were supposed to come out of. We let this society infect us, bring us down, discourage us, change our values. Oh, we could go back to that. We could be influenced by that. They had an opportunity to return, we could do that too, but God's got something better in mind. You see, you look at verse 16, but now what did they do? What we should do. "But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God's not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."
And not only those great ones that went before us that great cloud of witnesses as our examples, He's prepared that for us as well. When you think about what was it that motivated these people? What was it that caused them to be these fantastic examples? They were longing for the Kingdom of God. They looked to God's homeland, while they were living in a different place. They weren't in the homeland yet. They weren't in the Kingdom, but they were looking forward to it. And had they been involved with what? The pleasures of this world. If they were focused on the wealth of this world, and the politics of this world, and the values of this world, and the power, the rights of this world, well, they would have been back in the old country again. Be right back there in that country of sin. But instead, they were focused on the heavenly country. They were focused on the Kingdom of God, where their true citizenship lies. And to do that, they gave up everything. They changed their values. In fact, if we skip down just a little bit to chapter 12 verse 28, let's just turn the page. Chapter 12 verse 28, it reminds us we're in the same position. Hebrews 12:28 Hebrews 12:28Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
American King James Version×, “Therefore, since we," us, that's talking about you and I, "we are receiving your kingdom which cannot be shaken,” it cannot be undermined, God's Kingdom is not built on the sands of the sea. It is built on the rock-solid foundation of Jesus Christ. And so as we look at this, “that kingdom cannot be shaken, so let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” Yes, we are in a foreign country. That's where we are right now.
And yet, we are representatives of our home country. We're representatives of God's Kingdom. And Paul is taking this to the next level as we read the book of Hebrews. Wait a second, there's even more to this, as true citizens, as ambassadors, we're called to be personal representatives of the King. We are personal representatives of Jesus Christ and our citizenship in this heavenly Kingdom also means we live under its rulership. Because it takes it to the next level. We live under His guidance, His values, the values of the king. Those are now our values. In fact, we see here there's more.
This Greek, politeuma, our citizenship, it's talking about being members of a Commonwealth. Literally, that word means that, a form of government. We are citizens under a form of government, but not a government of this world because our citizenship is in heaven. We are under God's government. We are under His constitution. We are under His laws. And as true citizens, we don't only represent our country, we do represent it but we also represent the King. And it reminds us our values have to be different because now, we live under the Kingdom's laws, God's values, His directives, His culture, we could say, His perspective, the perspective of His Kingdom. And so as we consider our allegiance and our values, I think we have to step back and really consider, are we being undermined? Are we allowing the ocean waves to beat us and come against us spiritually? Has it eroded our thinking or in other words, have I put anything before being a Christian or being a citizen, we could say? Are we a Christian? Are we a citizen?
Do we think of ourselves in that way or do we tend to add to that? And what do I mean by that? Well, do you think of yourself in this way? I'm a male Christian or I'm a female Christian. I'm a poor Christian. I'm a poor citizen, meaning not wealthy or I'm a rich citizen. Okay, let's get serious. I'm a Republican citizen. I'm a Democrat citizen. I'm a white citizen. I'm a black citizen. I'm a new citizen. I'm a long time citizen. I'm a liberal citizen or I'm a conservative. Well, wait a second. Any adjective that we would put in front of citizen means that our identity is not first a disciple of Jesus Christ, a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Any adjective we put before Christian is wrong, according to the Word of God, because what that tells us is that we're choosing human criteria, as more important than our citizenship, our sonship in the Kingdom of God, in the family of God, and we cannot allow ourselves to think that way.
If we are true citizens of the Kingdom, that's our true identity. We are Christians. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God, and we have His values, and we live by His authority, and we practice what Jesus Christ our Savior taught and how He lives. And that means it's something that I do every single day because this life is a trading ground for that heavenly country. We're looking for that heavily country and I am training, I'm a trainee for the Kingdom of God. And we've been given a purpose and we've been given a mission, and we've been given a vision of that Kingdom to live as though citizens right now, to live as members of His society, and promote the Kingdom of God every day in what I say, what I do, how I live, how I work, in all of these things. And so, what an amazing calling we've been given.
Do you think that should change the world? Should that impact those around us as we stand for God's way of life, as citizens of His family? Peter wrote about this as well. A powerful passage that, in a way, recognizes these same thoughts that the apostle Paul wrote about. Look at 1 Peter 2:11 1 Peter 2:11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
American King James Version×. Now Peter didn't write about citizens, the politeuma, the way that Paul did, but he had the same idea. He uses a couple of different words that Paul also uses. We'll see them here in 1 Peter 2:11 1 Peter 2:11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
American King James Version×.
Let's notice the way Peter framed this same thought. 1 Peter 2:11 1 Peter 2:11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
American King James Version×, I'm going to read from one of the modern translations, from God's Word translation, so it'll be a little different than your New King James or your King James. But starting in verse 11, Peter writes, "Dear friends, since you are foreigners and temporary residents in the world," you're reading sojourners and pilgrims. Yeah, that's what they… we are foreigners. We're sojourners. We don't belong here. This is not the ultimate reality for us. We are pilgrims. We're temporary residents. And as a result of that, what does Peter say? He says, "I'm encouraging you to keep way from the desires that corrupt nature. Your corrupt nature is what can undermine you as well. These desires," he says, "constantly attack you."
Verse 12, "Live decent lives among unbelievers. Then, although they ridicule you as if you were doing wrong while they're watching, you do good things, they'll Praise God on the day He comes." Or your translations may say, "On the day of visitation." So for us as sojourners, as pilgrims, as temporary residents, as citizens of the Kingdom, we keep that great day, that day of visitation, the day of judgment, ultimately the return of Christ in mind.
It should be something we think about every day. It should come to our mind and we live now knowing that one day, not only, you know, me and you but everyone, one day everyone will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And so we strive to live with that day in view because we want to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant." And so, God has certainly called us to a completely different way of life, a radical way of life, we could say. Yeah, and it's, in a way, the pursuit of happiness, but not in the American sense. The real pursuit of happiness is to pursue God, is to pursue the enjoyment of all that He is and all that He has. Because it's so easy to get caught up in the society around us, and get off track, and undermine our faith. Because no doubt, discouraging terrible things are happening in our world. And when we take those things into consideration, it does distress us. It concerns us. It discourages us. We are distressed by evil. And yet we know it's just the tip of the iceberg. It's just the beginning. It's going to get so much worse because ultimately, the society of this world is going to crash into the ocean. It's coming down.
And so as we consider God's perspective, I think it's, in a way, summed up for us in Colossians 1. Turn to Colossians 1:13 Colossians 1:13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
American King James Version×, in a way, it summarizes how the world wants to undermine our faith, and where we need to change those values, and where we place our allegiance. Notice Colossians 1:13 Colossians 1:13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
American King James Version×, and it describes how different we really are. Colossians 1:13 Colossians 1:13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
American King James Version×, it begins by saying, "He," talking about God, "has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” So first off, we have to recognize, this isn't my home. This isn't my country. God's Kingdom is my country.
God has delivered us from the darkness of this age, from the prince of the darkness of this age, and not only delivered us, but He uses this interesting word, conveyed us into the Kingdom. Now, not physically in that sense, but spiritually, we live there now. Our perspective is that Kingdom right now and God's conveyed us. Now, if you've got an older translation, the word here is translated us. And if you think of, you know, great people of the Bible who were translated, we don't use that word a lot in English today. You think of maybe Elijah, Elijah was translated. He was caught up in a whirlwind, in a tornado, and taken up into the sky and dropped down in a whole other place. And they searched for him and they couldn't find him. And he shows up later writing a letter to the pagan king. In fact, Philip was another one in the New Testament. He was preaching God's Word, and suddenly a wind came, and it took him up and translated him, and he didn't go off into God's throne of heaven or anything like that. No, it picked him up and conveyed him to another place, and then he went on with his life.
You see, that's the same for us. God's taken us out of darkness and moved us into the perspective of His Kingdom. And that should be our focus. That should be our reality that we live by means of that Kingdom. And so, when we see verse 10, it reminds us of that very fact. I think I said verse 13 before, but going back to verse 10, "Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful and every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God." Well, we can do that because we have been conveyed, because we live differently, we think differently. We're out of the darkness and we've been brought into the light.
Verse 12, "Giving thanks to the Father who's qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." See of me, of myself, I can't qualify but in me, God in me, qualifies. In fact, Verse 13, that darkness it says, "He's conveyed us to the power of darkness or delivered us from the power of darkness, conveyed us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love." Of course, then he says, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." And this is a powerful recognition of where our strength really lies because this critical time that we're living. We're living at a time when God is raising up His own citizenry, citizens who will stand for the truth, citizens that are going to stand against the tide of this world, citizens that refuse to be unjust, refuse to demean or degrade anyone.
We are citizens who refuse to let jealousy or resentment even enter our minds. We are dedicated to the Kingdom and we are citizens that choose never to speak evil of anyone or put up with those that do. We are citizens that are committed to imitate our Lord, and our Savior, and our Master, our soon coming King, Jesus Christ because we are no longer in darkness. So as citizens, citizens of the Kingdom of God, let's ask God for a reset. Let's ask God to renew in us that vision of His Kingdom. Let's shore up the foundation of our faith and never allow the erosion that this world might bring. Let's rededicate our loyalty. Let's renew our commitment. Let's restructure our values. And to Him, as true citizens of the Kingdom of God, we pledge allegiance.