But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

! Peter 2: 9

 

This is July 4th, and in the United Stats we are celebrating the high holy day of our nation. Now listen carefully to me here, I say this with all due respect and sincerity. I am loyal and patriotic and delight in the many great things that this country has accomplished and that it does stand for. Additionally, Peter left us with little doubt about the fact that God directs us to be loyal citizens, to place ourselves under the rule and the authority of our civil governments and their leaders. Yet, I fear that too many people, in this country and in others, get our orientation, thus our priority, all wrong.

 

We start believing that God ordained our specific nation and its system of governance as His answer to the needs of humanity for justice, order, and right living. We grant our highest form of allegiance to that national entity while believing that the answers to all that is amiss in our world are to be found in strict adherence to a constitution and in the power and rule of might of our government, often as prosecuted by the strength of our military. Let’s face it, national identity is easy to grasp, is usually safe to proclaim in our neighborhood, and grants to us a ready means of proclaiming superiority among the peoples of the world.

 

This form of loyalty is legitimate on the one hand, but it is false at a much deeper level. It is legitimate in that God has established our various systems of rule as a means of both maintaining order in a broken and dying world and, through their inherent futility and oppression, of pointing us to Christ as the only legitimate and effectual King. Yet it is dangerously false in that it often leads us into placing our trust and faith in laws and in leaders that are earthly and temporary. Unfortunately this false trust inevitably leads to compromise and to a loss of true righteousness, justice, and love for others. God claims us as His own people, our nationality is found in Christ, and it is founded on the truth of God’s Word. Our mission is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Its purpose is to bring about the peace that is found only through reconciliation with God.