Watching the recent debate among republican presidential candidates moderated by CNBC really brought out the obvious contrast between two world views: one based on secularism and humanism, where “everyone does what is right in his own eyes” (cf Judges 21:25), and one based on biblical values and the Judeo-Christian ethics resulting from making God’s Word the final authority.
When we become followers of Jesus through faith in His finished work at Calvary, we become citizens of heaven. Paul tells us, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). As such, we eagerly await that day when Christ will “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (v. 21). But, until that time, as citizens of both heaven and earth, we have to find that balance of “being in the world, but not of the world,” of living out our dual citizenship in a way that is pleasing to God.
We are told in Scripture that we are “not to be conformed to this world” (Ro. 12:2) and we are also told not to “love the world nor the things in the world, (for) if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I Jn. 2:15). In regard to our relationships in the world, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers, for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness…Therefore ‘come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord, and do not touch what is unclean’” (II Cor. 6:14-17 cf Isa. 52:11).
But we are also sent out into the world as Christ’s Ambassadors to help others be reconciled to Him (II Cor. 5:20). We are told to be His witnesses to the far corners of the earth, sharing the Gospel, and teaching His Word (Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 1: 8). Just prior to the crucifixion, Jesus prayed: “I do not ask You to take them (His followers) out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one…As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (Jn. 17:15-18). So, we have the unique position as citizens of both heaven and earth, of being in submission to the governing authorities (Ro. 13:1-7) while at the same time “seeking first Christ’s kingdom and His righteousness” (Mt. 6:33) and “doing all our work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men” (Col. 3:23). As Jesus put it, we must “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21).
Even though we in the United States have a Constitution and government that was established on the basis of Christian principles, we have strayed far from the intent of our Founding Fathers and have become increasingly secular, with a strong anti-Christian bias among the news media, education, entertainment and government. We are seeing believers placed in positions where to stand for their Christian values means they may lose their jobs, business, and even be fined and face jail time. It is happening in business, in the military, in education, in sports, in every walk of life. Organizations such as Alliance Defending Freedom, The American Center for Law and Justice, The Freedom Coalition, and The Family Research Council are facing huge work loads trying to help Christians who are facing persecution for living out their faith.
Our “dual citizenship” places us in tension where we will have to make some difficult choices. There may be times, as with the bakers and photographers and coaches who have been in the news lately, when we, like Peter and the Apostles, “must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) and submit to the consequences. We have many examples of that throughout Scripture as well as world history. The tension is increasing today as the end draws near and men are “calling evil good and good evil” (cf Isa. 5:20).
We are living in a time when “technology is exploding, the media has become extremely biased against Christianity, popular entertainment relentlessly pushes the envelope, biomedicine stretches ethical boundaries, political issues shift with the polls, and Christian orthodoxy is questioned on every front. The world in which we live is undergoing a major cultural transformation—one leading to a widespread lack of faith, an increase in moral relativism, and a rejection of absolute truth” (Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. in Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America).
When Christian moral arguments are forbidden entry into the public space, our culture has “decided to violate the clear intention of our Constitution’s framers and to privilege one form of religious discourse over another. That is, we have privileged irreligious religious discourse” over that of Judea-Christian discourse. But, as Dr. Mohler wrote: “How can society deal with ultimate issues if the only people who are genuinely allowed into the discussion are those who believe there is nothing more ultimate than our own existence, our own communal negotiation of moral questions? If ever we reach such a point (and it appears we have), we will have become a civilization not even remotely like the one established by our Founders.”
Students in our law schools today are being taught “justificatory principle” which states that “any restriction on human conduct must be socially mandated by the political process on purely secular grounds.” Wow, that means Christians’ input is no longer acceptable. What a serious problem that presents: Where do we find adequate rationale for restricting human conduct on purely secular grounds? If we no longer consider God’s Word as our authority, how do we decide if something is right or wrong? Who decides? How do we decide when human life begins and of what value it is at all stages? By no longer considering absolute truth of right and wrong, we are now living in a “fatal moral fog resulting from those who try to approach ultimate questions with a purely secular world view” (Culture Shift).
The world is in turmoil, our culture is in a mess. The answer is pretty simple: Repentance and a return to following the Truth, looking to the Bible as our final source of faith and practice. Let’s be the pace setters and be willing to stand firm on our biblical convictions, no matter the cost. After all, we are not only citizens of this nation, but citizens of heaven!