I live in a land whose culture I increasingly fail to recognize or understand. Its customs, and the values that drive them, are becoming more and more foreign. Much of what I detest, this land celebrates. Much of what I celebrate, it detests. A sense of displacement and isolation grow with each passing day. 

The hypocrisy is what confounds me most, though. Its people claim agnosticism but yet exalt with exorbitant worship and glee a myriad of gods. Its people claim to cherish freedom of speech but yet exact a heavy price on anyone whose opinions run contrary to their own. Its people claim to celebrate the individual but yet demand rigid, uncompromising conformity. Its people claim egalitarianism but yet have an insatiable desire for power and control. Its people claim to advocate for the marginalized but yet enact measures which unequivocally and irreversibly hurt them.

I no longer despair over the fate of this land, however. While its path towards self-destruction still causes a sense of sadness, my hope is firmly intact. When unduly pulled into the chaos and that hope threatened, I recalibrate my reality by reminding myself of one simple fact: this is not my home. I am a sojourner, an immigrant waiting to gain my true citizenship.

My hope is well founded. You see, my land is special. Its people have no agenda. There are no wrongheaded or ulterior motives. Peace, not strife, reigns. Unity, not division, permeates. There is no brokenness, pain, hurt, or wantonly unadulterated and incomparable joy. In fact, it is so glorious I have no construct from which to even try and explain the splendor. Superlative doesn’t get me there, for any adjective used would only paint but a partial picture. Hyperbole fails, too. I cannot exaggerate the benefits of my land because anything said, regardless of how embellished it may sound, would be true.

My homeland is like no other because its ruler is like no other. People love to be in his presence because he reigns with perfect care and judgement. In fact, this governing force is so special that he did for its inhabitants that which they couldn’t do for themselves: purchase their own citizenship. But the currency used wasn’t silver or gold; the price was far steeper. The cost was the unfathomable—a ransom paid in blood—his own. This ruler’s name is Jesus Christ. And for those who turn from the snares of this world and abide in Him and Him alone, heaven is their ultimate home.

 In glory, all things will be made new. All things. 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:1-5, ESV).

What a beautiful picture.

Until then, what type of sojourner ought we be? It’s an important question for there appears to be some confusion in identity. There’s a segment of professing believers who, rather than viewing themselves as resident aliens, have mistakenly taken up citizenship on this side of glory. They see themselves first and foremost as Americans—the country’s conservative stalwarts to be exact—not disciples of Christ. Contrary to popular opinion, they are not one in the same.

The distinctions are important. Disciples recognize their own depravity and thus need for the Lord’s grace and mercy; stalwarts apparently don’t. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:21-22, ESV). Disciples know they were once an enemy of Jesus; stalwarts apparently don’t. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10, ESV). Disciples pursue their enemies like Jesus pursued His; stalwarts apparently don’t. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5, ESV).

Disciples love those who hate them; stalwarts are inclined to love only those who love them. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. . . . For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?” (Matthew 5:44-47, ESV). Disciples are in the disciple-making business; stalwarts, the cultural transformation. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV).

Jesus didn’t humble Himself at Calvary to save us from those who threaten our Constitutional freedoms. No, He humbled Himself to save us from ourselves. Jesus didn’t die a vicious death so that we could have our way in the courts and at the ballot box. No, He died so He could have His way in our hearts and minds. Jesus didn’t forfeit His life to secure our right to worship Him. No, He forfeited His life to secure our desire to worship Him despite the persecution faced. Jesus wasn’t pierced so we could fill our affections with idols, however noble some might appear. No, He was pierced to kill those idols and fill our affections with His acclaim. 

Because America is not our home, defending the principles from which it was formed cannot be our chief aim. As precious as those rights are, they pale in comparison to the greater joy set before us. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t press for policy that seeks to protect long enjoyed liberties and Christ-honoring truths. But, as we deploy our lobbying efforts, we must remember that the opposition was also made in the image of God and have souls in need of saving. We must recognize that our core identity is not ultimately tied to judicial decisions and legislative outcomes. It’s tied to Jesus Christ and the Great Commission. It’s tied to the glories of not this life but the next.

May we pursue our adversaries with the gospel. And may the Lord bless our efforts and usher many of them home.

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