Henry and I were recently discussing the current political uproar regarding the US Census questions. As a genealogist, he’s obtained a lot of useful family information from US Census records. He tells me the citizenship question used to be asked in the Census, beginning in 1890. There were multiple questions, about place of birth (individual and both parents), year of immigration, and citizenship status (“naturalized or alien”).
This led us to consider how interesting it might be to encourage different responses to the question of citizenship. If it were an open-ended question, many faithful Christians might respond with “The Kingdom of God” or “The Reign of God.” Environmentalists might choose to answer with “Mother Earth.” Yes, there would be many who would write in “United States” or “USA.” There also might be many others who simply put “America,” not realizing that the Americas encompass everything from arctic Canada to the southern tip of Chile.
The Fourth of July is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States of America this week. It’s a very “American” celebration. As you perhaps purchase burgers and beverages for an outdoor party or scour the internet for the best places to watch civically funded fireworks in your city or town, please also ponder the deeper issue of citizenship.
Jesus clearly stated that he had no earthly kingdom, nor any desire for one. He lived in Galilee, but crossed borders regularly into the Decapolis, Samaria, and Judea (where Jerusalem was located; the “nation” of Israel did not exist at that time). He didn’t raise the Galilean flag and didn’t denounce the Samaritans like his fellow citizens frequently did. Anyone today who seeks to build a “Christian” nation is not truly following Jesus. Christians hold citizenship in any and all political countries across this world, but belong first and foremost to the Reign of God, which transcends every political boundary.
Locally, Henry and I transcend boundaries whenever we minister along the US-Mexico border. Regionally, citizens of the United States of America do this whenever we sponsor a refugee, support overseas ministries, or work to bring about cleaner air and a smaller carbon footprint, to preserve the one Mother Earth that we all must share.
This summer, the United States of America is also commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the first human steps upon the moon. From the moon, gazing back toward earth, it is impossible to see any political boundaries. That perspective is crucial for the future of planet earth. Are you willing to embrace citizenship in this one world, rather than in imaginary lines that seem only to divide us?
How would you respond to this question: What’s your citizenship?