Christ + Culture Reflections // January 2021
If you know me, you know that I am very grateful to be an American. When I read the idea in Scripture that God has“made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26), I am glad that God has determined that I should live in this time and in this place.
If you’re like me, although you are grateful to be an American, you are grieved in various ways at what you see happening in America in this season and how many Americans of all political persuasions have been acting, not only in this past week, but past year and longer. Notwithstanding, this grief has had one very good effect on me – it has helped me to consider where my allegiance, affections and affiliations truly lie when it’s all said and done.
Here are three convictions I have been re-affirming about these things in my own life, and three convictions I desire for the life of Village Church:
1. Our Ultimate Affection Is For ONE PLACE – HEAVEN
The Apostle Paul reminds us that no matter where we live or how much we love the place we live in this life, our ultimate affection is for Heaven – and our greatest joy and best life will be found and lived there, and nowhere else: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ …” (Philippians 3:2)
Because this is true, Jesus says we should pray that the life we enjoy as citizens of heaven and the love we have for Heaven would invade the place we are citizens on earth: “Pray like this … Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9,10). I’m praying that the values and culture of heaven would invade the values and culture of America, the place on the earth that I live, and the life of every American in such a way that their affection and longings also become for Heaven – and would encourage us to pray the same as a church.
Our Ultimate Allegiance Is To ONE PERSON – JESUS
The Apostle Paul also reminds us that no matter how great an allegiance we may have to any earthly leader or leaders in our country or communities, our ultimate allegiance is only and always to Jesus – our one and only true Leader: “… he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:15–16)
Because this is true, Jesus says we should pray that the Leader we look to in Heaven would be the Leader our neighbors and nation look to here on earth – “Pray like this … Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9,10). The Kingdom of Heaven is only realized through the presence of the King, and the King made Himself present in the Person of Jesus Christ. I’m praying that my neighbors and our nation would see and believe in King Jesus, and live their lives in joyful submission and loyalty to Him – and would likewise encourage us to pray the same as a church.
3. Our Ultimate Affiliation Is With ONE PARTY – HUMANITY
The Apostle John likewise reminds us that no matter how great our affiliation may be with one political party or group of people, our ultimate affiliation as people who are created in God’s image is with all people who are created in His image – regardless of political affiliation, skin color, socio-economic status or any other description political operatives use to try to divide us. God is creating a united group of humanity made up of the most diverse and formerly divergent backgrounds possible: After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9–1)
Because this is true, Jesus says we should pray that this picture of the Kingdom of Heaven in eternity future would be reflected here on earth in the present: “Pray like this … Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9,10). If His Kingdom is to come it will come in such a way that it unites all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds and former ways of living under the leadership of Jesus – the One Person our allegiance lies with, and a longing for the diverse culture of heaven – the one Place our affection is truly for. I am praying that my neighbors of all kinds of political, cultural and social backgrounds would be united in faith in Jesus and allegiance to and affection for Him - and would also encourage us to pray the same as a church.
Village Church, we are living in what many see as a very confusing time, but these things could not be clearer – our ultimate affection is for Heaven, our ultimate allegiance is to Jesus and our ultimate affiliation is with all of Humanity. Let’s live and love in a way that makes these things clear to each other and a world that needs Jesus more than ever.