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2nd Timothy
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« on: May 30, 2005, 11:32:29 AM »

America at the Crossroads 3
Our Dual Citizenship


    Too often, we overlook some of the most significant blessings in our lives. We find that we are simply comfortable in the way we live, and we barely notice the almost unimaginable goodness of God in providing the things we most enjoy. Well, I believe that one of the most often overlooked blessings of God in this nation is the freedom we enjoy as citizens of the United States. Over and over throughout history, God has blessed this nation in ways never before seen in any other country. We, as Christians and as Americans, must open our eyes and take a close look at what the Lord has so graciously given.
   
   As we continue in our study of America at the Crossroads, I want to examine what it truly means for you and me to be Christian citizens.


Read Philippians 3:20-21
    For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.


   Throughout this course, we have discussed different aspects of our American history and culture. Now, however, we need to take a step back and look at this matter from a much broader perspective. We are not only citizens of this country. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God. That is, we carry a dual citizenship. Furthermore, these two relationships cannot be kept completely separate in the life of the believer. Our heavenly citizenship can, should, and must impact the way we live as Americans.
   
   In his letter to the Philippian church, the apostle Paul makes this point quite clear. He writes, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Now, Paul was not writing to a wandering, “nationless” group of people. Rather, he was addressing the Philippians—citizens of a Roman colony. These people were Roman through and through, and they took great pride in their Roman citizenship. So, Paul’s assertion of a different citizenship was an extremely bold statement. With that in mind, let us take a close look at what the apostle meant by this “heavenly citizenship.”


Kingdom Citizenship
    The first question you may ask is, ”How did I become a citizen of the Kingdom of God?” That is simple—it happened the instant you accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. In that moment, your name was written down in what Paul calls “the book of life” (Philippians 4:3). Jesus also spoke of this heavenly roll, saying, “Rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20). The verb tense in the original Greek here indicates that the recording was a past event that is still in effect today. This means that your name was written down in heaven when you accepted Christ and it still stands recorded.
   
   A second, more important question may be, “Well, what does this mean to me, personally? I believe that this heavenly citizenship places both privileges and responsibilities on us that we must note. What are the privileges? I can think of several. We get to call upon God as our heavenly Father and upon His Son, Jesus, as our personal, active, living Lord and Savior. We have experienced His great forgiveness and no longer have to carry the guilty burden of our sin. We have the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, guiding and directing every step. We can call upon the name of the Lord and trust that He hears and responds. And we have the promise that we can achieve all things in the power of Christ. We have promise after promise, privilege after privilege, simply because we have been born into the Kingdom of God through His Son, Jesus Christ.


What are some personal privileges that you have experienced as a citizen of a heavenly kingdom? How might these privileges impact your position as a Christian and as an American?



    Now, what are the responsibilities? As citizens of a heavenly kingdom, we are expected to obey our Lord and see Him as Master over every part of our lives. We must worship and adore Him, walk in His ways, communicate with Him regularly, and seek His guidance and direction. We are also responsible for telling other people about Him and for allowing His Holy Spirit to shine brightly within us in such a way that draws other people to Him. Furthermore, we have the responsibility of loving each other and supporting the work of the church here on earth.
   
  Many believers never accept these responsibilities. They simply go to church, tithe occasionally, and think that’s all there is to it. Sadly, many of these people never allow their faith to impact every area of their lives. They may see some parts of their lives as “off limits”—areas such as finances, business deals, or civic activities. How can a true follower of Christ keep his faith out of any part of life?


What, if any, areas of your life have you traditionally seen as “off limits” for your faith? Why is/was this so? What can you do today to make your faith a more vibrant, impacting aspect of your daily life?


    As God’s children, we have each been given more than we could ever repay. And Scripture makes it clear that “from everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). The Lord has given us a commission to be the salt and light of this world. (Matthew 5:13-16) Think about these images for a moment. What does salt do? It seasons, flavors, and preserves. Salt penetrates whatever it is used on—a little sprinkle goes a long way. But, if the salt never leaves the shaker, then what good is it? Nobody buys salt because it looks pretty sitting on the table. It has a purpose and, when kept inside the shaker, it is practically worthless.
   
   Now, think about the reference to “the light of the world.” Light drives out darkness and makes the pathway clear. Light also removes every pretense and falsehood, revealing things for what they really are. Why would Jesus use these images if He were not serious about His followers getting “outside the shaker” and impacting their world? He never misspoke; Jesus always knew exactly what He was saying, and He meant every word of it. Therefore, we must carefully examine what these responsibilities mean in each of our lives.

continued
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2005, 11:34:26 AM »

National Citizenship
    Just like we have privileges and responsibilities as heavenly citizens, we also have them in our American citizenship. The privileges should be obvious to you: you have rights, liberties, freedoms, and provisions that exist nowhere else in the world. We all enjoy these things, even if we have done nothing to protect, preserve, or defend these privileges.
   
   However, we also have several distinct responsibilities as Christians in America. First, we must actively impact the decisions that shape our nation. God has given you a clear, unique voice. And, beyond that, He has set you within a country that allows you the freedom to express your views and impact your nation. Are you using what He has so graciously given you?
   
   You may say, “But I’m just a naturally quiet and simple person. All this isn’t really a part of my life.” Yes, it is. If you are a child of God living in this day and age, then it certainly is a part of your life whether you accept it or not. This is a critical time in our nation in which we are dealing with issues that will shape all future generations. How can you call yourself a good Christian if you are not taking an active stance on these things? Friend, you cannot be a good Christian and a poor citizen at the same time. The decay of our moral culture is something about which we simply cannot be silent.


Respond to this statement: “You cannot be a good Christian and a poor citizen at the same time.” Why is this true? Or, if you disagree, state your reasons.


    Second, we must make our civic decisions based strictly on the Word of God. When we try to make changes in our neighborhoods, towns, states, and even the country as a whole, what is our motivation? Sometimes, we make decisions based on personal preference, as we discussed in the previous two lessons. Other times, we choose one thing over another because we think it will be more profitable to us personally. We may even take a bold stance of “looking out for number one” and doing whatever is necessary to improve our own lives, no matter what the results are to other people. These attitudes simply have no place in the life of the believer.
   
   When we place the focus on anything other than the unchanging truth of Scripture, we can be sure that our focus is off. Remember, we should be moved to action by biblical principle, not personal preference. Furthermore, we should lend our strength and voice to those who are leading the way, making the tough decisions to change the nation in accordance with the Word of God.


    Third, we have the responsibility of holding our leaders accountable for their actions and decisions. You see, in America, “the buck stops here.” That is, in our system of government, we cannot place the blame of poor leadership on anyone else. We are given the freedom to choose our leaders and the obligation to hold them accountable.
   
   James Garfield, the twentieth President of the United States, had this very idea in mind when he made the following statement in 1877:
Now more than ever before the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation, it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forums. (Garfield, A Century of Congress, 1877)
   
   What does all this mean? Simply, it means that whatever happens in America is our own responsibility. Write a letter, send an email, make a phone call—do something to make sure your representatives know that you are holding them accountable. Remember, these men and women are not perfectly wise; they make mistakes and misjudgments just like you and I do. Therefore, it is only when we are all working together as a team that the system truly works. This is certainly the case in Scripture. Just think of all of the occasions when a ruler was brought under conviction through the testimony of an unexpected messenger: Moses to Pharaoh, Elijah to Ahab and Jezebel, Nathan to King David, Jonah to the king of Nineveh, John the Baptist to Herod—these are just a few examples of God’s servants making their voices known to their leaders. We must still do this today!


What are some ways in which you can make your voice heard? How can you personally make an impact in the world around you?


    Fourth, we have the undeniable responsibility to pray for our leaders. This is true for pastors leading worships services and for individuals in their personal prayer lives. Some pastors may say, “Well, I just can’t talk about individual leaders from the pulpit. I would upset somebody.” Listen, I’m not talking about digging into other people’s personal lives in a sermon. I’m simply obeying the command of Scripture to pray for those whom God has placed in authority. First Timothy 2:1-2 could not be more clear: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
   
   You see, it doesn’t matter if you disagree with their beliefs or positions; you are still called to pray on their behalf. Pray for God to grant them strength, wisdom, and courage to do what is right. How could you possibly seek to strengthen your nation by withholding prayer for its leaders? There are enough believers in this country to pray our nation into radical new directions and godly decisions. We all carry that responsibility, no matter who we are or what our personal opinions may be.
   
   Everything we’ve discussed in this lesson is simply a matter of living out our godly calling. It is the act of being the men and women that God has called us to be as citizens, believers, and leaders. It is the responsibility of every single Christian in this country—holding a dual citizenship in the Kingdom of God and in the United States of America—to live out his or her life as salt and light. Only when we accept the godly call to be the salt of the earth can we help preserve this great nation of ours.


    And Father, how grateful we are that You’ve given us the privilege to live here and to abide here and to be so blessed. And how we could wish that [in] every nation on earth, the people had the freedom and the liberty and the opportunities and the privileges that we have. Give us wisdom to look at ourselves afresh and anew and to ask, “Oh God, how am I to live out my life as a Christian citizen, as a citizen of the Kingdom, and also as a citizen of these United States? And we ask this in Christ’s name, Amen.

end part 3
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Tim

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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2005, 11:41:20 AM »


Revelation-------------light.  God gave us food to eat in Genesis.  Man is giving us transgenic food to eat.  We, as Christians are eating it.

People of God, please educate yourselves on this issue.

Thanks for the study 2Tim.

Grace and peace,
cris

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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2005, 01:33:22 PM »

2nd Timothy,

Another AMEN Brother. This is an excellent series on Christian responsibility.   Light.......Salt......Prayer
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