Citizenship, Culture, and the Church

Citizens_SermonSeries GraceChurch

I have lots of thoughts on this week’s sermon, Citizens: Identity. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch below:

It’s important to remember the context of this message, that the sermon is primarily for Christians, the body of Christ. Likewise, virtually all of the Bible was written to those who follow God, or at least say they do.

As the pastor (Matt Williams) said:

“We have to train a culture of Christians to think courageously, and look at the Scriptures and apply them to us.”

Therefore, none of what I say here should be taken as “Those people should do this,” or, “What if someone else (not a Christian) wants such-and-such?” Those may be valid points and worthy of discussion. It’s just not the focus here.

Sermon Take-Aways

Here are a few of the snippets that jumped out at me (some are paraphrased and edited for clarity):

“Our response to what we see in the culture tells us about our identity and allegiance.”

“If you are a Christian, you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven; you are a citizen of heaven making your way through this world.” (quote from Vance Havner)

“There is not and cannot be a Christian nation. That is why Jesus comes back one day.”

“Who thinks this country was founded as a Christian nation? White people. Not African-Americans. Not Native Americans.”

“Most of our church is over-identified and disillusioned with the culture. Some signs of this in the individual are: fear, stress, anger, and sadness.”

“The Bible does not say that marriage is JUST about one man and one woman. The Biblical marriage is one GODLY man and one GODLY woman.”

“We can disagree, and not hate.”

“Our heritage is empty, in the context of our identity in Christ.”

A Challenge and Changes for Me?

In view of my already stated perspective on the Confederate Flag and patriotism / heritage, most of this message was easy to hear. I shared some of this on Sunday afternoon, and I will reiterate and clarify it here.

But one thing that hit me in the gut was towards the end of the sermon, was when Matt said that it’s not politicians’ jobs to change hearts. It’s MY job to engage people on an individual heart level.

I realize I haven’t done that well at all, over the weeks, months, and years. I am good about creating blog posts, and sharing Facebook and Twitter statuses, and making sharp on-line comments. But none of those things will change people’s hearts.

Also, this was a reminder that I don’t need to focus on social justice, but on the gospel. In my work and ministry, I fail to remember this too often.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about all week . . . Maybe I’m wasting my time and energy. Maybe I’m in these social and public platforms too much for my own sake. Because if I was in it for God, I’d think there would be more gospel fruit.

Does that mean I’ll hang this all up? Maybe. But it does mean I will be dwelling on this: “How do I work to spread the gospel, much better than I’ve been doing?”

“Am I willing to suffer the shame of being associated with Jesus?” 

Here are some related articles to this topic:

Fare Well, Liberty Bell (Rick Segal):  “At our American residence, we’ll remain citizens. . . . At our Christian residence, our eternal address, we will be slaves, glad bondservants to the sublimely beneficent king of all kings.”

God’s Purpose for the Supreme Court and Everything Else (Jon Bloom):  “We can be at peace despite major cultural shifts, moral decline, political upheaval, war, natural disasters, disease, and increasing hostility to the gospel.”

The Message That Changes Everything (Tim Challies):  “The gospel is the one message that counters everything we want to believe about ourselves and about God.”

Christian America? (A Different Way):  “Our primary mission must never to be a nation that is guided by Christian principles, but a nation that is full of Christians that live by God’s principles and the Spirit’s power.”

Patriotism and the Church (A Different Way):  “But in promoting Sunday morning patriotism, many churches draw a sharp line between the “holy” church and a “pagan” government.”

Good-Bye, Christian America (Mission: Allendale):  Links to another couple of good articles.

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4 thoughts on “Citizenship, Culture, and the Church

  1. First of all, reading your blog over the years, I’ve used this blog to look at social justice through the eyes of a Christian. It has changed my heart in many ways.
    Conversations and opinions that I hold today, wouldn’t have happened just a few years ago. Thank you for this blog.

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    • I appreciate your encouragement, Jason — here, and for the last few years. I’m glad God has used my struggles and thoughts to help you. I just have to figure out how to best use my time. Still thinking . . .

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  2. Great thoughts, Joey. I was challenged in a similar way by the sermon. As a matter of fact, this morning I was considering how believers are foreigners in this world, and also how Jesus told us to expect mistreatment from the world. It brought to my mind the thought that, maybe if I’m not experiencing any “mistreatment”, maybe I’m either not among non believers enough, or I’m not identifying closely enough with Jesus. I think I’ve certainly been living too much like a citizen instead of an ambassador and foreigner.
    Definitely a lot of things to process and chew on. I certainly need the challenge to consider from where I draw my identity, my hope (the Gospel or the culture). And how biblical (or non-biblical) my thinking has become.

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