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01 July 2016

Dual citizenship… and picking a side.

You’re a citizen of the kingdom and your nation. Which one has your allegiance?

Many Christians are fond of saying, “This world isn’t my home. Heaven is.”

To a degree that’s true. We’re part of the kingdom of heaven, with Jesus our king. We recognize his reign (or try to) and follow him (more or less). Or at least we expect, despite our unloving, unkind, impatient, fruitless behavior, he’ll nonetheless graciously recognize us as his followers when he takes over the world. Maybe he will.

In the meanwhile, we’re also citizens of our nations. I’m a citizen of the United States, as are most of TXAB’s readers, which is why I so often get U.S.-centric. Of course I know there are readers from all over: You might be a citizen of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Ireland, Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia, the U.K.… and that’s the top 10, so if I didn’t list your nation, you’re just gonna have to enlist more of your friends to read, and bump up your stats. Anywho, as Christians we’re all fellow citizens of God’s kingdom—yet at the same time we have allegiances to our respective homelands.

In the U.S., if you’re both a citizen of this country and another one, we call you a “dual citizen.” We have lots of ’em. Officially the U.S. only recognizes one citizenship: Ours. (So pay your taxes. It’s why Americans who don’t even live in the States still have to pay American taxes.) When people become Americans, part of our citizenship oath requires people to renounce their original country. But if the original country doesn’t care about that, and still counts them a citizen, they’re dual citizens. Most of the dual citizens I know are also Mexican citizens, and take full advantage of their Mexican citizenship whenever they’re in Mexico. One’s from the U.K.—and when he visits family in the U.K., he’ll even switch his accent from Californian to Londoner.

Here’s the catch with dual citizenship: Sometimes you gotta pick a nation.

Say you were a citizen of both the U.S. and Iran. And say we went to war. (Hope not, but let’s just say.) Well, you’re gonna have to pick a side. Especially if you work for the government—of either nation. Neither country will let you stay neutral: You’ve gotta be wholly American, or wholly Iranian. (Or you’ve gotta flee to Argentina.)

Well, that’s how Christians are when it comes to our national citizenships. I’m a dual citizen of the kingdom and the United States. So what happens when the States does someting hostile to the kingdom? Right you are: I gotta pick a side. And I’ll let you know right now: I’m picking Jesus. Like any immigrant, I may have been born American, but I choose citizenship in the kingdom. So Jesus takes priority. Don’t even have to think about it.

Much as I love the United States, I’m fully aware that when Jesus returns, he’s gonna overthrow it. And when he raptures his followers to join his invasion, we’re gonna help him overthrow it. I’m gonna help him overthrow it.

Yes, that’s treason against the United States. Yes, this treason-talk is probably making a lot of good patriotic Americans feel extremely uncomfortable. As it should. ’Cause this isn’t a hypothetical situation: Jesus is returning. Not maybe; is. Not in some “spiritual sense,” by which you’re probably thinking imaginary. He’s literally, physically coming to earth to take it over. Maybe not in our lifetimes… but maybe he will; we don’t know.

So where’s your allegiance? ’Cause you must pick a side. Probably should do it now.

The “Christian nation.”

When I say I’m gonna help Jesus overthrow the United States, many Christians have no problem with such a statement. They expect to be right alongside us, doing it too.

And many Americans have a giant problem with it. ’Cause they’re loyal patriots. They don’t want any part of any statement which suggests disloyalty or treason towards the good ol’ U.S. of A. They may fully share my belief—that once Jesus returns, we’re helping him set up his kingdom on earth—but the idea Jesus will overthrow America? They’ve never considered the idea. Because they actually believe he won’t.

See, they believe the United States is a “Christian nation.” Founded by Christians. Run by Christians—well, run by Christians when the Christian party runs the Congress and White House and the statehouses. Predominantly populated with Christians. Christianity embedded in our laws and customs. It’s as saved as any individual Christian. Saved precisely like ancient Israel was saved from ancient Egypt. Jesus has no reason to overthrow it; we’re on his side! This is his nation, under God, indivisible.

Well, so long as we remain on God’s side. Which is why such Christians are thrown into utter despair whenever we pass a law, or the Supreme Court hands down a ruling, which confirms we’re actually not a “Christian nation,” but a secular one. Now Jesus is gonna have to judge—and overthrow—America! So let’s repent, misquote 2 Chronicles 7.14, get good Christians elected to office, change the laws, ban the sins, build walls to keep out all the non-Christian foreigners, and make America great again.

This is the way a whole lot of Americans think. I know; I was one of ’em. Taught to think it by fellow Americans who believe likewise. It’s embedded in American history, whether we call it Manifest Destiny, our Christian heritage, a “shining city on a hill,” American exceptionalism, the American Dream… and believe it or not, it was even the basis of the progressive movement, founded when most Christians still believed the utopian view was how the End would come.

But none of it’s biblical. It’s civic idolatry, the idea the United States is the one exception to the kingdoms of this world which Jesus must conquer. It’s why all my treason-talk isn’t just treason, but blasphemy. Hey, when you’ve made America your god, that’s what treason becomes.

Civic idolatry.

My youth pastors liked to tell this story of a new Christian, a boy who gave his life to Jesus—his entire life, he claimed—but there were one or two things he really didn’t wanna surrender to Jesus. Usually the stories made ’em sins. The boy couldn’t give up gossip, or rock music (I grew up Fundamentalist, y’know), or pornography. Everything in his life belonged to Jesus… but that. That, the boy insisted, he got to keep.

And just like a campfire horror story, the pastors invariably concluded with, “And it became an idol!” [Cue the shrieks of fear.] “Because that’s what happens to anything when we won’t surrender it to Jesus.” True, it’s quite melodramatic. But it’s entirely true. If we can’t surrender all to Jesus, the one sin we can’t give up grinds our spiritual growth to a dead halt. Or turns us the other direction.

There’s a much tougher version of this story. It’s when the one thing we can’t give up, isn’t a sin. Like our hobbies. Our goals. Our dreams. Our patriotism.

Yeah, patriotism. Much as we love the United States, we have to surrender the United States, same as everything, to Jesus. If it’s really his nation, it’s his nation to do with as he will. That includes destroying it. If he wants to shatter our nation like pottery, Ps 2.9 and replace it with his better, greater, eternal, multiethnic, multilingual, multinational, Rv 5.9 global kingdom, that’s his right as our king.

It’s profoundly ridiculous to imagine Jesus is gonna knock down every nation, every ruler, every government… but not ours. Every constitution set aside, but we Americans get to keep ours? Every world leader the world over, fired from office, but we Americans get to keep our Congress, our governors, our city councils? Have ya seen our elected officials? According to the polls, for the most part we want ’em gone. Why on earth would we expect Jesus wants to keep them? The more we analyze the idea of Jesus keeping our nation intact, the dumber and dumber it sounds.

Jesus is our king, not our president. There’ll be no limited government keeping him to two terms, keeping him from creating laws, keeping him from interpreting and enforcing his own laws. There’ll be no separation of powers; he wields all the powers. There’ll be no democracy electing him to office, nor threatening to remove him when we don’t want him any longer; the kingdom isn’t a limited monarchy, but an absolute one, remember? Jesus will never swear to uphold the Constitution; it won’t apply to him, and he’ll set it aside. And since the Constitution defines the United States, it means he’ll overthrow the United States.

You already knew this. It’s just some of us never let it sink in. Our patriotism kept us blind. Idolatry does that, y’know.

This being the case, we Christians need to fight the urge to pin too many—or any—of our hopes in America. It’s a good nation, but a temporary nation. It’s a quick fix, really. Think of it like a busted sewer pipe, and till the plumber arrives we’ve wrapped several layers of duct tape over it. In no way is this an adequate replacement for a new pipe. But for now, we can use the bathroom without soaking the basement in crap. Well, much crap.

Civic idolatry tells Jesus, “Look at the fine job we’ve done!… You’re keeping the old pipe, right?” And it threatens to fight him if he won’t embrace our quick fix, and build his solution on top of it with shinier duct tape. It’s just that short-sighted.

No no no. Let Jesus do his work, and rip out the works like he has to. Help him—’cause those who fight him aren’t gonna inherit God’s kingdom. It must rise, and the United States of America must fall. Choose his side.