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?
Interesting question. 78 years ago last Saturday, the most militantly atheistic nation the world had ever seen was invaded by the a nation whose guiding ideology was a strident neopaganism. The atheistic nation, in its struggle to survive, relented in the persecution of the Christian Church, with which the citizenry identified. Today, after a bloodless revolution that suppressed Church is thriving again. Even the President of this nation, baptized in secret, by his grand mother, openly worships at the major solemnities, standing reverently along with the other worshippers during a two hour liturgy. Maybe Jesus wouldn’t want an overtly Christian nation claiming allegiance to him. Then again, maybe he would prefer hearing the Liturgy of The Resurrection in Moscow to the speeches of Lenin or mourning the lives lost to abortion, legalized by the Bolsheviks or those starved by Stalin in Ukraine or The Gulags. So I consider myself a Christian, living in a nation where its citizens are free to identify as Christians, a condition not enjoyed by Christians in many parts of the world.
Hi, David. I’m glad you found my question interesting. I like your pondering about Jesus perhaps not wanting an overly Christian nation claiming allegiance to him. I do believe he would prefer liturgy celebrated over lives lost, however those lives were lost. I also definitely agree that we are fortunate to live where Christians do not have to hide their faith. I pray often for the Christians in the Middle East, who are being used as pawns and driven out in the battles between Jews and Muslims. Thank you for your honest and faithful response to my post.
“Liturgy” is a word that merely begins to describe worship in the Russian Orthodox Church. Get on YouTube and search for Russian Orthodox Easter Liturgy 2019. The Easter Liturgy invokes reverence, devotion, and, I would argue, that the essence of our faith is its supernatural basis, meaning it transcends reason and natural law. So give yourself a couple of hours and prepared to be awed by our Russian brothers and sisters.
Ah, yes, liturgy can definitely be supernatural. It is also engaged in by human beings, so it transcends that natural/supernatural “divide” that is really not a divide at all. Everything is sacred, because everything is created by God. Thank you for your suggestion and sometime when I do have a couple of hours, I will spend some time with that liturgy (though, for me, a screen will not ever compensate for physical presence!).
Again, thanks for your engagement with my blog!
Glad to participate.