In honor of the Fourth, I thought I would post some thoughts on citizenship I wrote while living overseas.
May 5, 2001
Sometimes I still feel like a small child on Christmas morning, filled with excitement at the possibility of fulfilled dreams. My excitement spills all over everyone in my path, and I just can’t control my enthusiasm. I had one of those days last Thursday. Everyone in a five mile radius knew I was giddy with excitement when our Slovene friends announced that our Friday plans included an excursion into Austria. (Ok. Ok. Maybe not a five mile radius, but everyone in the house.) You might be wondering, “So,what’s the big deal?” Well, to this country, Mississippi girl who has memorized most of the songs from The Sound of Music, going to Austria was big stuff. My expectations weren’t even great. I didn’t have to go to Salzburg and take the Sound of Music tour. (Even though I’d love to some day.) I didn’t have to enjoy authentic Austrian food. (We ate at McDonalds.) I didn’t even have to “shop ‘til I dropped”. (I bought some shaving cream and a few postcards. ) Learning German and living like an Austrian weren’t even part of the plan. I didn’t want to live there, I just wanted my passport stamped. I wanted proof to show that I’ve been to Austria. It was a tense moment when the border guard tried to wave us through with just a count of passports and passengers, but our driver kindly asked if the Jeffcoat’s passports could be stamped. (Which he did!) I was thrilled and satisfied.
Even though my excitement nearly drove Raymond and the kids crazy, I don’t think it was a bad thing to simply want my passport stamped with the Austrian insignia. (I’ll be glad to show it to you sometimeJ) But I did get to wondering…Do I/we ever approach the kingdom of God the same way? Sure, we all want to enjoy the Kingdom of Heaven in the next life. But do we really want to be a part of it in this one?
If I go to church on Sunday and live like I want to Monday through Saturday;
if I give begrudgingly to the church or special offerings;
if I join the church and am baptized, but my life hasn’t changed;
if I do things for God out of a sense of duty and not out of my love for Him;
even if I live as a “missionary” in a foreign country, but have a heart full of self-pity;
then I’m only having my spiritual passport stamped for show and am not really living the Kingdom life.
I don’t think God wants tourists to His Kingdom on earth, He wants committed citizens. He wants people to live the Kingdom life here and now every minute of every hour of every day. If I were a citizen of Austria, I wouldn’t be merely passing through, I would plant my life there. I would have to leave my American comfort zone, give up my American ways, language, and life style, and abide totally by Austrian rules and culture. It wouldn’t be easy.
If I want to be a genuine citizen of Christ’s kingdom, I have to give up my worldly ways, language, life-style, and totally abide in Christ. Often that means reaching beyond my comfort zone to touch the lives of others. It isn’t always easy. But it is always worth it, because even though His Kingdom is one of self-sacrifice and self-denial, it is a kingdom of love. There’s no place like it on earth.
“But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands…” (1 Kings 8:61) “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:23)
Help me to make the necessary changes in my life in order to be a committee citizen of Your Kingdom. When it comes to Your Kingdom, I don’t just want my “passport” stamped, I want to live, breathe, and experience You every minute of every hour of every day. Amen.
Striving to be a good Kingdom Citizen with you,