Citizens of two kingdoms, but one deserves ultimate allegiance

Scripture can get under skin. Take for instance 1 Samuel 12:12. Samuel is speaking to the Israelites about their desire to have a king like all of the other nations around them.

“But when you saw that King Nahash of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us’, though the Lord your God was your king.’” (NRSV)

Reading this during our election season made me think of Christians in America. As we choose a president, it is wise for us to remember that we have a King, to whom we owe ultimate allegiance.

“Now after John [the Baptist] was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’” (Mark 1:14-15 NASV)

The coming of Christ ushered in a new phase of God’s kingdom, and all who follow Christ are now subjects in that Kingdom.  We seem, however, more concerned in the U.S. today with who is president than who is King.

Christians are citizens of two “kingdoms” — God’s and the earthly one in which they live. American Christians have the privilege of living in a democratic nation where we can actually have a voice in the kind of government we want.  That has been a very rare privilege in the history of humanity. It is, of course, also a rare responsibility.

As we approach our time to vote, we should do so very seriously. The values that arise out of our relationship with God, as revealed in Christ, should impact the choices we make. We have an opportunity the early Christians never had; we can actually make a difference in government in order to make it more like what the Apostle Paul envisioned when he said government is supposed to be “God’s servant for your good.” (Romans 13:4A)

Government has a God-ordained role. And since in the U.S. the government is literally ours, then our voting makes us collectively responsible for our government. In this amazing historical setting, we are not only to be good American citizens but good Kingdom ones, as well.

Going back to the story of the Israelites in 1 Samuel. They got pretty much what they deserved – a king who looked good and fought well while not being very wise. We can see similarities in the U.S. today. Thanks to television, you really need to be handsome or beautiful to get elected, and those who kill our enemies or like to use fighting words get an extra measure of respect. It is an ego-driven nationalism at work, and God’s Kingdom can become lost in the makeup and clamor.

God, however, is always at work, even when political leaders fail us. In 1 Samuel, God raised up David, who did much for God and God’s people while Saul still sat on the throne.

What we do on election day is very important. But as we vote it is good to remember that those of us who are Christians still answer to a higher authority because we are part of God’s Kingdom, and this is a Kingdom that stretches far beyond our national borders.

We vote and are good American citizens. More importantly, we love God with all of our being and we love other people as much as we love ourselves. In so doing we are good Kingdom citizens, and this allegiance will last forever.

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