You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.1 Peter 2:9-11
Here on Visa
Is that how you see yourself Christian? As someone who has no land, no nationality here on earth.
I admit it’s hard for me to see myself that way as a born and raised white American. No one has accused me of not belonging here, no one has called me a foreigner (though I am of course the descendant of immigrants).
As a Christian though I need to constantly remind myself that I’m not ultimately American, I’m actually a resident of the Kingdom of God.
What does that actually mean though?
I grew up with a brand of Christianity that was very tangled.
Tangled up with American values, tangled up with a certain view of politics and culture, tangled up in the belief that God would vote a certain way.
But the more I looked at scripture the more I realized that maybe there were some things in scripture that didn’t line up with the brand of Christianity that I’d grown up with.
In scripture I saw a Jesus that was more concerned with spending time with the poor than the rich and influential. I saw a Jesus that was welcoming to prostitutes and criminals and rejected popular faith leaders. I saw a Jesus who was willing to disrupt the economy of Jerusalem so that the nations could experience God. I saw a Jesus that was more concerned with forgiving enemies rather than killing them.
I saw a Jesus who was beaten and abused and had the capacity to wipe out his captors and claim self defense, but didn’t. Instead he let himself be taken advantage of, let himself be mocked and let himself be killed.
Then he called us as his followers to do the same.
I love America, I love freedom and love what we get to enjoy as citizens here. I am so grateful for the men and women who make that freedom possible and make sacrifices everyday for the good of everyone.
But my love for America isn’t religious, it doesn’t make me uncritical. It doesn’t make me ignore the inconsistencies between common American practice and Kingdom of God practice.
After all, I’m not a Christian American. I’m a Christian who happens to live in America.
Peter calls us foreigners, travelers, not permanent residents. That means I have a clear purpose. My mission in life is to be an ambassador. To represent my home country (The Kingdom of God) to my original country (America). I need to show people what it looks like to live in the new world that Jesus is creating through his people and call others into lives of forgiveness and peace.
Peter calls us a Kingdom of priests. That’s significant.
In the Old Testament priests were people who were seen as standing in the gap between heaven and earth. They had a responsibility to live up to the high calling that God placed on his people so that they could be an example to the people around them of what it meant to follow God. Peter says every Christian has that responsibility. To show the watching world how followers of Jesus live, how they use their time, their money, and their abilities.
How they are an example of humility in a world that always wants to get ahead. How they care for the poor in a world that cares about power and influence.
What’s also significant was that in a way the priests of the Old Testament had no land to call their own. When God divided up the land for his people he gave no land for the priests but dispersed them throughout all the other people. It was a way to remind them that their home can’t be found on a map.
So may you be reminded that your home can’t be found on a map, that your calling is to be an ambassador and that every space you occupy is an embassy. May your life be a collision of heaven and earth to show the world what it means to follow Jesus.