In a few months, I’ll be preaching from 1 Peter and was doing a little reading this morning in preparation for those sermons. I came across a story from R. C. Sproul that vividly captures our identity as Christians:
My wife, Vesta, and I were traveling from Hungary into Romania right after the breakup of the Soviet Union. We were warned about the great dangers of going across the border, as the border guards tended to be overtly hostile toward Americans. We were riding in an old train from Budapest to Cluj-Napoca in Romania, and we came to the border between Hungary and Romania. Two burly border guards got on the train where there were four of us: Vesta, me, and another couple. In gruff and broken English, the guard told us to empty our suitcases. Just as we were about to follow his command, their leader looked at our friend, who had her Bible in a brown paper bag on her lap. He grabbed the Bible from the bag and said in broken English, “You no Americans.” We had our passports that identified us as Americans, but he questioned us about our citizenship. He pointed his finger at the Bible text and said, “Look what it say.” We are pilgrims and citizens of heaven. He was a Christian. He turned to the other guards and said, “These people okay. Leave them alone.” We made it through the checkpoint, but we experienced what it means to be pilgrims, sojourners, in a foreign land yet members of the kingdom of God and citizens of heaven. (R. C. Sproul, 1-2 Peter)
I love that. He pointed his finger at the Bible text and said, “Look what it say.”
We are pilgrims. This world is not our home, we are citizens of a heavenly home and it is only there that we will experience the fullness of our salvation and the complete satisfaction of unhindered relationship with our savior.
Independence Day is approaching and we will celebrate it in a big way in my family. I am proud and grateful to be an American. But, as great as this country may be, it is not my home. I am only here for a little while. As the old southern gospel song celebrated, “I’ve got a home in glory land that outshines the sun.”
We are strangers in a strange land, but our Father will one day bring us to his banqueting table. His banner over us is love and h will feed us at his table and welcome us into his home where we will live forever.
We may be Americans (or Canadians, Ethiopians, or Hondurans), but only in part. We have a dual citizenship and our first allegiance is to Christ who died so that we may live.