This past week I celebrated Canada Day (July 1) in Canada, my country by birth. On Sunday I celebrated July 4 (Independence Day) in the USA, where I live—my adopted home. Every year around about this time I am asked two questions. When am I going to become an American citizen? Or, am I ever going to move back to Canada? The honest answer to both questions is, “I don’t know.”
Both countries are amazing places to live. Having to choose is a little like trying to decide which of my boys I love the most.
But I have been thinking about citizenship and loyalties a lot this week as it relates to my Christian faith.
What do we do with Jesus’ words about serving two masters? When does love of country become worship of country?
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, one of the first things we are call to pray for is the in-breaking of God’s kingdom. I can confidently say that God’s kingdom is neither the Canadian nor American “kingdoms.” If I push this thought just a bit, there is a sense that when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are praying for an end to our “kingdoms.”
In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul declares that our citizenship is in heaven. Ultimately, citizenship is about loyalty. When believers have to choose between God and country it should be a no-brainer.
Country always loses.
I am glad that I live in a place where we rarely have to choose one or the other, but we surely receive abundant opportunities and temptations to link the two rather seeing them as separate. In some ways, that might be the more pernicious choice—not God vs. country, but God-and-country vs. God alone. It is good to remember that my citizenship, loyalties and heart belong first and foremost to Jesus.