When Your Country Does Bad Things

I want to learn how to break away from putting faith and trust in civic government. Lent Week 1, Day 6

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Everybody lives somewhere.

This is true for Christians, as well. Wherever in the world we reside, we live there.

So what does that mean? We live in a nation that has laws, structures, and some measure of governance. Some people live in countries that are oppressive. Some live in countries that in a constant state of war and chaos. Some live in countries with varying levels of freedom.

Most of you reading this live in the same country I do. And we have a large amount of freedom. Not only are we free, we are free to complain about those freedoms not going far enough for enough people. We are able to openly discuss our disdain for our elected officials. We can campaign to get people voted out of office when we dislike the job they are doing. We can assemble and protest (although, this is a right the current government is trying to take away).

All of this is great. The fact that we are free AND free to complain is a blessing that most people in the world do not have.

So we live somewhere. Somewhere good.

But that does not mean we should give up what is right and true and just and honorable in the name of our country. Sometimes, my government does things that are awful. Sometimes, people I voted for vote for laws that are completely contrary to God’s will. Sometimes, people voted for by Godly people speak horrible words and insult people and make all sorts of baseless, paranoid accusations.

And when that happens, I have a choice. Will I stand up for my belief in the Kingdom of God or for my belief in the Kingdom of my country?

In the Christian Bible, there is a story in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings. There was a king named Ahab. He was brash and arrogant. He spoke a lot of angry, boastful words. He claimed that he was the person who could make the kingdom of Israel into something it had never been before. And one day, he was about to go to war. The other king who was going to join him in the war wanted to hear from a prophet named Micaiah. Ahab wanted no part of that, because Micaiah always sad bad things to Ahab.

So instead of considering that Micaiah might be right, Ahab surrounded himself with other people who called themselves prophets and told Ahab only what he wanted to hear.

There have been too many leaders in too many nations all throughout history who have surrounded themselves with people who did little more than repeat back to the leader all of that leader’s proclamations.

But that’s not the only problem. There was another king considering going to war as an ally of Ahab. But even after hearing what Micaiah had to say, that other king still went in to battle.

Because just as there have been a large number of bad leaders, there have been a large number of good people who were willing to shut their ears to what God was saying.

Because they loved the kingdom of country more than the Kingdom of God.

We live somewhere. This means we have certain responsibilities to be good citizens of the place we live. Yet for those of us who are also people of faith, we have a responsibility to be good citizens of the place we believe we are going.

If someone who agrees with my political ideology stands up and calls for something that is completely at odds with my faith, I must choose Kingdom of God. I can be respectful. I can follow the right channels. But I must speak up.

Because when I do not, I will find myself following along when the leaders of this world pull us away from God’s will.

I must remember: the people who killed Jesus were not the lawless and evil; they were the ones in power—both in the church and in government.

This transcends any political party or ideology. If we are unable to critique our echo chambers, they will begin to define us. If we are unable to place our priority in something greater than whom or what we vote for, then our center will always be changing.

So we all live somewhere. But where does our primary citizenship lie?

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