God's Kingdom without Borders

The Vine Institute

God's Kingdom without Borders

[CITIZENS WITHOUT BORDERS — There’s patriotism, then there’s citizenship, then there’s…

Welcome, friends of the Vine, to our new blogs site! And yes, I fully intend the double entendre: a hearty welcome goes to friends of the Vine himself (Jesus Christ our Lord) and those friends may also be friends of The Vine Institute (TVI). For that matter, here’s even a hearty welcome to anyone just checking us out!

 

As a new site, necessarily this first post will need to include some orienting words and “ground rules”—you know, what this blog’s about and what’s appropriate behavior for entering the conversation. For now at least, here are the words (remember, it’s a work in progress):

  • TVI exists as a ministry headquartered in Salt Lake City that seeks to join God’s agenda of developing a healthy intercultural body of Christ on the Wasatch Front (and eventually beyond) through connecting, educating and celebrating across cultures in the love of Christ. That mission drives this blog site, a site which we trust will function as a forum for enriching, encouraging discussion of issues of intercultural ministry and mission—discussion aimed at facilitating the intercultural body of Christ which God is building in our national and local demographic landscape.
  • One appropriate behavior, then, is to use Christ-honoring, people-edifying language only, please—obscenities, profanities, slurs and the like don’t fly.
  • Second, please stay on topic. Rambling is the kiss of death; likewise non-sequiturs and provocative or pugnacious speech.
  • Third, it’s inappropriate to advertise yourself, your services or your company in the form of comments on this blog site.
  • Fourth and finally, we’ll have a time-bound window for posting responses: the site will be open to comments for seven (7) days after each post.

So there you have it—the necessary orienting and boundary-setting verbiage. Now for a timely issue to give you, our Vine friends, something to weigh in on.

 

With July 4th only three days away, perhaps you’re thinking—as am I—beyond hot dogs and fireworks, and find yourself wondering what national independence and patriotism are worth these days to a committed Christian. My own experience on this coughs up a collage: travels and sojourns in two-thirds world countries where poor sanitation left me with amoebas and very appreciative of American comforts; South Sudanese friends who dearly cherish the independence their newly-formed country recently gained and many of whom long for home just as I do when I’m far from the homeland I grew up in; my daughter who married a man of Quebec and now lives outside Montreal, entrenched in French Canadian culture….I could go on and on. Face it: we aren’t the only ones in God’s kingdom who have heart-attachments to their homeland of origin! So how much God-and-country stuff can we justify? We can justify enough, I’d argue, to appreciate the gifts of Providence our country has and yet not so much that we disrespect or belittle the gifts of Providence other countries have. Because “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20) we no doubt will find our patriotism qualified by kingdom of God values. Wherever we live before the face of the God who “made all the nations…and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands” (Acts 17:26), our patriotism seems less important than our citizenship which seems less important than our heaven-directed citizenship! Let me leave you with some remarkable words (that frankly took me by surprise!) from a song I was not familiar with until singing it with the congregation this morning in worship. It’s titled “A Song of Peace.”

 

This is my song, O God of all the nations,

A song of peace for lands afar and mine;

This is my home, the country where my heart is;

Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:

But other hearts in other lands are beating

With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

 

This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth’s kingdoms,

Thy kingdom come, on earth Thy will be done…

Lord, help us find our oneness in the Savior,

In spite of differences of age and race.

 

Well, there you have my take, at least in brief, on the issue of citizenship and patriotism for Christians: mostly it’s about kingdom of God citizenship regardless of our (providentially arranged) address on the planet. What’s your take?

 

David Livingstone Rowe

Posted in Ethnocentrism on 1 July 2012

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