Earlier this summer, our family made a pilgrimage to the ultimate summer vacation destination, Disneyland. As we navigated the crowds, I noticed a common trait among our fellow mouse-eared tourists. With the exception of a few overstimulated toddlers and stressed-out parents, everyone around us was smiling and laughing. The strangers...
So many people have great affection—even pride—for the place they live. Often, all other peoples and places are found lacking in comparison.
Others love their country, but have anxiety and fear about the direction they see their governments heading.
Finally, some have never had a sense of belonging, a sense of home. They feel disconnected from the people and places around them.
What does Scripture say about how we should feel and react to the land where God has put us?
All nations are set up by God for the purposes of God.
He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away. (Job 12:23)
While it can be a source of pride to live in a nation “by the people, for the people,” we must always remember that every country, nation, or government on earth is first and foremost by God and for God. He brings them into being, uses them for his divine plan, and then replaces them.
There are many examples of this in the Old Testament. God used Assyria to punish Israel for its disobedience; then God used Babylon to destroy Assyria for its sin. God had Babylon invade Judah as a punishment for Judah’s sin; then God raised up Persia to punish Babylon. It is God who orders these things. Nations only exist and act to further the sovereign will of God.
All nations will bow before Christ.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Regardless of the level of power or influence of any nation or people, everyone will bow before Jesus Christ. All will be humbled, and “every tongue shall swear allegiance” (Isaiah 45:23b). Jesus is the King of all the earth; our allegiance should be to him.
All nations will be terminated by God.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (Revelation 21:1)
At the end of days, everything we know will die, and God will make a new heaven and a new earth. When this happens “the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17b).
We won’t give a thought to where we were born in this life, as the new earth will easily eclipse it in glory.
As followers of Christ, our first loyalty is always to God.
“Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21b)
Wherever God has placed us, our first love is Jesus. We are to give him our entire lives—body and soul.
However, God has put us under our nation’s authority: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:13). It is true that Christ has freed us, but our freedom is for “living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2L16b-17).
We are created by God, so we give ourselves to him before and above anything else. This does not mean that we sit idly by without any interaction with our government. It means that we work for God in our nation, with his will and law being our ultimate goal. John Piper summed up this principle wonderfully on his blog:
When you know that all is God’s, then anything you render to Caesar you will render for God’s sake. Any authority you ascribe to Caesar you will ascribe to him for the sake of God’s greater authority. Any obedience you render to Caesar you will render for the sake of the obedience you owe first to God. Any claim Caesar makes on you, you test by the infinitely higher claim God has on you. Rendering to Caesar is limited and defined by rendering to God.
As followers of Christ, we are not of this world.
And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:19-21)
As followers of Christ, it is normal to feel disconnected from where we live. Jesus had no true home here on earth, and we should expect the same. We may have a desire to claim some kinship with the place we were born, but we are really “sojourners and exiles” (1 Peter 2:11), living in a land no longer ours. Our responsibility now is to “keep [our] conduct…honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
As followers of Christ, our home is with God.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)
When Christ became our Savior, we renounced our citizenship in any nation. All the world is now a foreign land; we cannot take pride in its triumphs, but we can take hope when it falters. God works in the world for his purposes, and he has made us his own. We are a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession,” (1 Peter 2:9a).
We are ambassadors for Christ here but a short time, and then we will be in heaven with Jesus, our true and eternal home.