By Art McElroy, Contributing Writer
Total inclusiveness and the participation in life amongst all people is a notion still unrealized by many in this country. As I look broader, I am inclined to make the same comparison to the Church, where many Christians are left isolated and abandoned as a result of the divisiveness and injustices within it.
The first portion of the subject title is taken from the last line of the United States Pledge of Allegiance.
They are beautiful words that describes the unity, freedom and righteousness given to all American citizens as a result of their identity in birth or as a result of the country’s legal naturalization process for those not born here. In spite of how one becomes an American, it is the Pledge of Allegiance that confirms his standing and protection of citizenship in this country as detailed by the constitution.
However, it is in the second line of our subject title that I want to focus this conversation. It describes a concept of citizenship as it relates to the American-Christian in this country, who are already unified, free and righteous as a result of their spiritual identity in Christ.
And while the Pledge of Allegiance confirms the Christian’s standing and protection in this country as detailed by the constitution, it is the pledge made by Christ to His Church that confirms the Christian’s standing and status as a citizen in heaven.
In looking at the word dichotomy, we see that it is defined as “a division into two, especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities.” It can be described as the complete separation into two with both having distinct identities, functions and purposes.
In other words, as it relates to our conversation, as soon as someone becomes a Christian, he is immediately, exclusively and contradictorily separated into two different, distinct beings allowing for dual citizenship. One from heaven and the other from earth.
This transition of citizenship is one of which many Christians are not cognizant of, leaving them to operate as though a shift in status never took place. As a result, their thinking and behavior associated as Christians tends to remain as it was prior to the dichotomy in identity ever took place.
Now, let’s establish some understanding here. I am not saying that once someone becomes a Christian while living in America, he loses his citizenship to this country. On the contrary! What I am saying is that those of us who are American and Christian, must be acutely aware of the dichotomy of our identity while being citizens of the United States.
In spite of all of the teaching and instruction on Christianity, many are left ignorant of their true citizenship as Christians and how it correlates with their dual citizenship as Americans.
I totally understand that there is a certain level of pride that should be had in being an American. Believe me, I love the United States and am proud that this is my country. My point is that as Christians, we are a different kind of citizen, reborn of another world entirely. Consequently, there is a balance of life that we must possess in order to live harmoniously with other Christians, while being that proof source to the rest of the world of the earthly and heavenly existence of Christ.
Dichotomy confirms that the Christian is truly out of this world!
Jesus, in John 17:14-17 while praying to God puts it this way. “… because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. … They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world….”
Paul, speaking to us in Philippians 3:20 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven …”
In other words, scripture clearly details that the true citizenship of all Christians do not belong to any country on this earth, but in heaven alone. This is the crux of my conversation and I define it with this question:
If Christians are so unified in heavenly places, then why are we so divided in physical places?
By definition, we are to be as tightly knitted together on earth as we are in heaven. This defines our existence by the mission Holy Spirit. This confirms the dichotomy that took place at our salvation.
I mean if you take a look at how we interact in this world, you will clearly see the divisiveness that we sometimes have as a Christian nation. It seems at times that there is no distinction in action or conversation of some Christians versus those who are not. Where does the distinct and mutually exclusive lines of citizenship start and stop for the Christian in America?
Paul teaches in Romans 12:2 that while existing in this world, we should not assimilate to it. He tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”
So I take you back to the last line of America’s Pledge of Allegiance, which reads, “Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for All.” We can see that many of us are missing the mark in its application. There are some Christians who have adopted the ideology of the world and are condemning others based on a physical citizenship as opposed to honoring others as a result of their spiritual citizenship.
As Christians, it is important for us to realize and remember that the citizenship of heaven is a gift from God. It affords us the heavenly rights and promises as His children while on earth. Our heavenly citizenship serves as a constant reminder to the rest of the world of the love of God, which should enhance our citizenship as Americans.
2 Corinthians 5:20 – “… we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us…”
1 Peter 2:11 – “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles ….”
Ephesians 2:19-21 – “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God ...”
There is a balance of life in this world that is described in the dichotomy of the Christians existence in the country. The knowledge and application of this existence can only be attained through proper study and faith in the Word of God. It is possible to live a life worthy of Christ, while having the pride of being an American who lives as an example of the words… “Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for All.”
May God continue to bless the United States of America!
Art McElroy is the founder of The Penuel Group, Inc. Please visit The Penuel Group on the web at www.thepenuelgroup.com. You can also contact Art at firstname.lastname@example.org.