I recently spent a couple of days in a town considered one of our nation's biggest tourist attractions. As I walked around observing the sights, I was struck, once again, at how many of the folks milling about were from other countries.
It would be fair to say there were people visiting from all over the world. Though the United States is a melting pot, a land made up of folks from around the world, it was fairly easy to pick out those who were "not from around here." After all, we are Americans. But just what does American mean these days?
The people of our nation come from many foreign nations and various cultures and ethnic backgrounds. At the very least, it is extremely difficult to look at a group of people and know for a fact whether or not they are citizens of the United States.
When we travel to other countries, people seem to know we are Americans. It might be our language or our habits or whatever, but they seem to know.
As these thoughts crossed my mind, I wondered about those of us who call ourselves Christians. According to the Bible, we are not citizens of this world. Yet we are so very adamant about being Americans. Now, please realize, I am just as patriotic as anyone I know. I've been in several foreign countries and couldn't wait to get "back home" to American soil.
But when we become Christians, our citizenship changes. We are no longer citizens of America, or even planet Earth, we are simply pilgrims passing through on our way to our real home. And just like those folks in other nations know that we are "not from around there" when we travel, people who observe us should be able to see a difference.
Not because of the way we dress or our skin-tone or our dialects. I've met citizens of heaven in Eastern Europe, Mexico, Finland, Russia and Crimea. I know citizens of the Kingdom of God from places like India, Kenya, Nigeria, and many other lands.
They should know we are not of this world because of our actions; we must not seek to conform to this world. They should know we are not of this world because of our love.
If we know Christ, we are citizens of heaven.
These days it seems to be popular to fuss and fret about losing America to some enemy, foreign or domestic. We shout loudly about the Christian America we once knew. We bemoan the possibility that America will no longer be considered a Christian nation.
Yet, the Bible tells us that once we accept Christ we can expect all kinds of negativity to come our way, up to and including persecution and, ultimately, death. Being American doesn't keep us safe from persecution, even in America. Why? Because we are no longer citizens of this world.
We are citizens of the Kingdom of our great God and King.