The Responsibilities of Our Dual Citizenship

Christians are unique among all the citizens of the world. Regardless of the country we live in, all Christians have dual citizenship. We are both citizens of the nation in which we live and at the same time citizens of the kingdom of Heaven (Phil 3:20). In Matthew 22:21, Jesus commanded: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” As Christians, we have responsibilities and obligations to both realms.

At this particular time in our nation’s history, there is an increasing tension between serving both realms. We are compelled to be a positive witness for Jesus and the kingdom of God while at the same time we are to fulfill the responsibilities of citizenship in our nation, state and city.

In 1384, John Wycliffe wrote in the prologue to his translation of the Bible, “The Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, and for the People.” Four-hundred seventy-nine years later, in November of 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Abraham Lincoln wrote in his address, “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Those immortal words, while extremely beautiful, do actually mean something. In our Constitutional Republic, “we the people” are the governing authority in our nation. We elect people to represent our interests locally and at the state and national levels. Our Constitution limits the powers that our elected officials can exercise over those of us who elected them.

In our American form of government, “we the people” are the final authority, not those elected to represent us. “We the people” are the real government of our nation. That is why elections in our country are so vitally important.

Did you know that roughly 50% of Christians are not registered to vote?

Did you know that of those Christians who are registered to vote, less than 50% vote?  

Because so many Christians do not take the responsibilities of their earthly citizenship seriously, we increasingly have elected officials who arbitrarily and capriciously make decisions that restrict the free exercise of our religious beliefs and how we raise our families.

When policy and laws of our elected leaders are in direct conflict with our religious freedom, how are we to behave? Do we turn the other cheek as commanded in Matthew 5:39? Do we follow the example of the disciples in Acts 5:29? These are tough choices to make.

I do not presume to tell you or anyone what to do in situations like these. Because the Spirit of God lives in the followers of Jesus, we can trust the Spirit to guide us. Here are three things I believe the Holy Spirit is urging me to do at this time in history:

  1. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” The Bible teaches us to pray for wisdom in balancing our dual citizenships. I am praying for wisdom to make good choices.
  1. As a Christian citizen living in our nation, I have a responsibility to participate in our form of government. I am contacting elected leaders to respectfully share my concerns and to offer solutions in policy decisions that directly contradict scripture.
  1. I am registered to vote – and I will vote! I am reading about the issues and the candidates. To be clear, there are no perfect candidates. But there are some candidates who are more closely aligned with my understanding of theology and how I want to live my life than others. I prefer candidates who will not intentionally cause me to make the choice between following God’s ways or man’s ways.

Until God sets up His Kingdom on earth, we will all face times where the uniqueness of our dual citizenship will challenge how we practice our theology. 4Tucson offers several opportunities to meet candidates, to talk with other followers of Jesus about issues and to discuss some of the challenges of our dual citizenship. Please take advantage of the things we offer.

I hope you will take the responsibility of your dual citizenship seriously.

I hope you will become informed about the moral and religious issues of our day.

I hope you will vote in this next election.

Why? Because as President John Adams reminded us, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” As Christians, we must take the responsibility of our dual citizenship seriously. Our nation’s future depends on our involvement.