Every 4th of July I find myself singing, “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. I am unapologetically 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 we recognize and embrace our role as an Exile. Consider further:
Recognize Your Role as an Exile
You are not Home yet. We live on earth but the Earth is not our home (Phil 3:20). We do not ignore or abandon this world, but we recognize that our stay here is temporary. We are simply passing through this world to another. As Johnny Cash so eloquently sang, “I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger traveling through this world below.” 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). Do not lose your hope in this difficult life. Remember that you belong to God and are bound for the Promised Land!
You Live on Earth. Luke records for us in Acts 17 Paul’s sermon in Athens, Greece. In this sermon, Paul says 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. Our stay may be temporary, but we have good work to do while we are here. While we are passing through, we do not turn a blind eye to the problems we encounter. 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 to recognize that we are exiles so that we do not become bitter and disillusioned. It is also important to embrace our role as exiles so that we do not become unconcerned and detached here. 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. In Jeremiah 29:7, the Lord told the Israelites to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Here are a few ways we are doing it:
- Seek the Welfare of the Unborn. Who is more vulnerable than the unborn? If we do not seek their welfare, who will? As Christians, we are committed to ending the scourge of abortion. We currently partner with a pro-life organization in Cape Girardeau called Options for Women. Pray for them and seek to help out through donations and/or volunteering.
- 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. We currently partner with a Christian organization called CarePortal. CarePortal brings the needs of hurting children and families in our community to our attention. Child welfare workers uncover the needs. CarePortal makes us and other local churches aware, giving them an opportunity to respond. Pray for them and sign up to help today.
- Seek the Welfare of the Oppressed. There are far too many people in our community and nation that are suffering physical and mental abuse. 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. We are a church that is not afraid to stand up and fight for the oppressed. We partner with local law enforcement. We have policies in place to make our church a safe place for those who come.
- Seek the Welfare of the Family. Many families are struggling. We are committed to equipping and strengthening families. We refuse to gossip about one another and our families and instead are committed to unconditionally loving one another. We spend time reading the Bible together, praying together, and eating together. Pray that God would strengthen our love for one another. We currently have our Family Ministry Milestones that help equip parents to train up their children.
- 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. There are many great resources for sharing the gospel and FBC recommends the 3 Circles Method by NAMB.
What does it mean to be a Christian living in America? It means that America is where we live, but it is not our home. It means that we pledge allegiance to the flag of 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. It also means that we “seek the welfare of the city” (Jer 29:4-7) where God has placed us.