Christian CitizenshipMr. Tim Snyder, Media Services Coordinator for Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, WI
cit•i•zen•ship: the quality of an individual's response to membership in a community (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
What is your response to membership in the nation you call home? Are you a good citizen? Are you raising good citizens?
As Christians we hold a dual citizenship. Our loving God has made us citizens in His Kingdom of Grace. We are also citizens of an earthly kingdom. Both citizenships are God’s gifts although the benefits are not the same. It may help to distinguish between the two kingdoms by looking at it this way:
The Kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom, and its goal is to call individual souls to faith by means of the Gospel.
The kingdom of this world is a temporary institution, and its goal is to maintain outward order in the public arena by means of power, natural law, and human reason.
Christians may not be of the world (John 17:14-16), but we must live in it. While we are in it we will want to be good citizens who contribute to the well-being of society. Here are just a few ways in which we can model God-pleasing citizenship for our children.
Good citizenship means recognizing that the governing authorities have been put in place by God.
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1)
Christ rules over all things. Even when our elected leaders support laws that are incompatible with God's law, we remain confident that Christ rules and works all things for the good of His Kingdom (Romans 8:28). We recall that God used the greatest miscarriage of justice in history to bring about the salvation of mankind.
"Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above." (John 19:10,11)
Good citizenship means showing respect to those God has placed over us.
We owe the government more than just taxes. As God's servant, the government deserves our honor and respect. The Apostle Paul reminds us of that:
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:6,7)
We may not always agree with what our elected officials say or do, but that does not give us license to dishonor them with our speech. Little ears hear our conversations and learn from our example. In such matters we should always be prepared to testify to God’s truth, but do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
Good citizenship means being good stewards of the blessings God provides through earthly governments.
In the United States we enjoy the privilege of being able to participate in government. This is not a right, but a gift that God chose to give us at this time and place. One way to exercise this privilege is by voting. We can emphasize the importance of this to our children by participating at every opportunity. Remind your family that this privilege is not available in every country and does not guarantee it will always be available to us.
Good citizenship means giving thanks for the blessings God provides through earthly governments.
What did you do this past Memorial Day? Was it just another day off, or did you and your family thank God for the protection He provides through those who serve in the military? We are also thankful for the police officers, firefighters, and those whom God puts in place for our benefit.
Remind your children that they have nothing to fear from those in authority, but rather to be thankful for a government that maintains order.
For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:3,4)
The Bible has one purpose:
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)
Through His Word God brought our families into His Kingdom of Grace. Through His Word He also demonstrates that we can and should be good citizens in the earthly kingdom He has ordained.
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