On this Fourth of July holiday we shall take a moment to give thanks to God for the country we live in. The United States, in my humble opinion, is the greatest nation on earth and I unapologetically proclaim that I am proud to be an American. I am not only proud to be an American, I am proud to be a Christian. In fact, it is best to say that I am proud to be a Christian living in America. What does it mean to be a Christian living in America? It means that I live here but this is not my home. It means that we pledge allegiance to the United States of America while recognizing that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). It means that we recognize and embrace that we live here as “sojourners and exiles” (1 Peter 2:11) and that we are here temporarily and will one day return home.
Recognize Your Role as an Exile
Being a Christian living in America, we must recognize that we live on Earth and our home is in Heaven.
Your Home is in Heaven. We live on earth but as Christians we understand that this earth is not our home (Phil 3:20). This does not mean we ignore this world or abandon this world, but we recognize that our stay here is temporary and we are simply passing through this world to another. The implications of this are profound because it reminds us that our hope and joy are not dependent on what happens in this world. We lay up treasures in heaven (Matt 6:20) not here on earth. We look “forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb 11:10). We do not turn a blind eye to the problems we encounter here. Even though our stay is temporary we have good work to do while we are here.
You Live on Earth. Luke records for us in Acts 17 Paul’s sermon to religious men in Athens. In this sermon, Paul tells these pagan men that God “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). As Christians we understand that it is not an accident that we are here. In fact, we recognize that we are here because of God’s gracious, glorious plan. What can we do? We must embrace our role as exiles for the glory of God.
Embrace Your Role as an Exile
While it is good for us to recognize our role as an exile in this world, let us not stop there. Let us embrace our role as an exile. This is important because if we recognize that we are exiles but do not embrace it; we can quickly become bitter and disillusioned here and now. But, if we embrace our role as an exile, we demonstrate faith and trust in God as we understand that He knows what He is doing and His way is best. We embrace that we are here for a short amount of time (James 4:14) in order to do the good works which God has prepared for us to do (Eph 2:10). Also, we are exiles who do the work of an ambassador (2 Cor 5:20) and represent King Jesus. Many sermons could be spent on our role as an exile, but on this holiday and in this nation we shall focus on God’s message to the exiles in Jeremiah 29. We shall commit to seeking the welfare of our city. Specifically, we shall:
- Seek the Welfare of the Unborn. Those who are unborn are the most vulnerable among us. If we do not seek their welfare, who will? As Christians we must use ourselves and our resources to end abortion. We partner with a fabulous pro-life organization in Cape Girardeau called “Options for Women”. They are always looking for donations of time and resources to help save lives.
- Seek the Welfare of the Weak. While we seek the welfare of the unborn, let us not overlook those recently born. The youngest among us are some of the weakest among us and need godly men and women seeking their welfare. Whether it is spiritual or physical needs, let us be a church that seeks the welfare of the children in our community.
- Seek the Welfare of the Oppressed. There are far too many people in our community and nation that are physically and mentally abused. Tragically, slavery still exists in this country in the form of sex slavery and human trafficking. We cannot and we must not ignore the oppression that occurs all around us. Let it be said that we are a church that is not afraid to stand up and fight for the oppressed.
- Seek the Welfare of the Family. Far too many families are struggling. Let us commit to spending time together as a family. Let us refuse to gossip about one another and our families and instead commit to unconditionally loving one another. Spend time reading the Bible together, praying together, and eating together. Pray that God would strengthen our love for one another.
- Seek the Welfare of the Lost. The church exists for the glory of God and God is glorified in the salvation of the lost. There is great rejoicing in heaven when a person becomes a follower of Jesus. Let it be known that this church is a Great Commission church. Let us be a church that tells our friends and family and even strangers about our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.