Faithlife Sermons

Living as Dual Citizens


Quick History Lesson

I want to begin with a quick Biblical History lesson.
In the late 600 BC the Babylonians, under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar, began to conquer God’s people.
In 605 and 597 BC, people in Jerusalem were deported from their home to Babylon, very much a Godless place.
The book of Jeremiah was written during this time and the first part of chapter 29 is a letter God sent His people through the Prophet to those now in the land of the Babylonians.
You are likely familiar with Jeremiah 29:11
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
But, there is a much broader context
In the passage, God gives the people some important instructions on how they are to live in the middle of an Godless and oppressive system:
Jeremiah 29:4–7 ESV
4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But 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.
Seek the welfare of the city… that is a powerful command to a people far from home.

Living out a compelling Citizenship

1 Peter 2:13–17 ESV
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
reference to 2:12 - live such GOOD lives that others will see the goodness of God.
we do that in our citizenship here and now.

The POSTURE of our Citizenship

1 Peter 2:13–14 CSB
13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good.
Submission= putting ourselves under rightful authority.
Notice I didn’t say right authority as if to say everything a governmental system or society would deem right is actually right.
But there is such a thing as rightful or proper authority.
“Because of the Lord”
Our submission is a response to the authority of God who is ultimately the one who establishes governments and puts people in the positions of authority over us.
This is an application of 2:12 “living good lives among the gentiles”
The way we do this as citizens is submission.
Submission is not the sames as agreement or endorsement.
You may hear me saying that you should not question the government, or even challenge governmental policy.
But that is not what I am saying.
The ultimate authority in our lives is God and God alone and we must follow Him even if it means we go against proper civil authorities.
The difference is in our posture.
Think of Daniel choosing to pray even though he was threatened with the Lion’s den.
Think of Peter and John preaching even though they were risking punishment.
Acts 4:18–21 ESV
18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.
Now that is humble, submissive, boldness in the face of opposition.
Peter is writing to a group of Christians who are experiencing trials and persecution at the hands of a harsh and somewhat brutal government.
We struggle with the idea of submission in our day, but imagine those reading Peter’s words 2000 years ago.
But our posture of submission has roots:
1 Peter 2:21 ESV
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
The gravitational center of this part of the letter is the meekness and submissiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ (2:21–25). The one we are to imitate stands in the middle of it all. In essence, Peter wants us to follow in the footsteps of the Prince of Peace. It is for this reason that Christian men and women gladly and voluntarily put on the garments of submission. We are not operating out of some blind adherence to a rigid principle but rather out of love for the one with whom we have a relationship. At the end of the day, Christians willingly submit themselves to people in authority because we desire our lives to be pleasing to someone, not something!
David Helm “Preaching the Word: 1 & 2 Peter, Jude”
Our posture of submission to authority is a fruit of the Gospel working out into our lives.

The PURSUIT of our Citizenship

There is a reason God puts us in the places we live, as citizens of heaven and of our earthly home.
1 Peter 2:15–16 ESV
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
“This is the WILL OF GOD”- this is why God has you here and this is why we ought to submit as citizens of the place we live.
Silence the scoffers-
Not only is submission a gospel response, it is a gospel apologetic.
When we humbly submit to authority, even corrupt authority, it silences those who are looking for a reason to fight.
We live in a volatile and divided world.
Disagreement is rarely something that can be done civilly, but often lead rather to slander, arguments, hate, bigotry, dishonor, mockery, lies, and all kinds of other divisive and hurtful things.
God is calling His people to be different
He is not calling us to be weak, quiet, or uninvolved, but to be people to, even in our disagreement, display the marks of Christ and the proclaim the goodness of God.
Peter is saying, in effect, “don’t give reasons for people to speak unnecessarily negative about God in the ways you speak and in the ways you act as citizens.”
Serve God-
“As people who are free, don’t use your freedom for evil, but, rather, to serve God.”
Titus 2:10–14 ESV
10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Our freedom in Christ trains us to:
renounce ungodliness and worldly passions
live self-controlled, upright, and Godly lives in the present
and eagerly wait for our blessed (living) hope
So we can “be submissive”
Titus 3:1 ESV
1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
The will of God is for us to “live such good lives as citizens of heaven and citizens of Ohio county (or wherever) that others may see our good deeds and glorify God.”

The PRIORITIES of our Citizenship

1 Peter 2:17 ESV
17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Peter finishes out this section with the 3 (kind of 4) priorities of our dual citizenship:
1) To Honor
2) To Love
3) To Fear (aka: show Reverence)
These three priorities will govern our words, our actions and our attitudes as citizens.

The priority to honor means to show value and respect to everyone.

This is a very important words for us in our present time.
Each an every person that lives was made in the image of God and has value.
That may sound too touchy, feely for you, but it is important for us to recognize.
Regardless of someone’s past mess ups or current struggles, they have value because they are image barriers of God.
Regardless of someone’s political affiliation or voting record, they have value because they are image barriers of God.
There is no justification in the life of a Christian to dishonor, defame, or slander anyone for reasons of disagreement or difference.
It is one thing to disagree, it is an entirely other thing to defame or dishonor someone in order to make yourself more seem more powerful.
So, is what you are saying, doing, thinking, or posting honoring to others and honoring to authorities, even if you disagree?

The priority to love means we actively pursue unity and care for one another.

We may disagree, we may find it difficult how someone votes or how they view particular issues that are important to us, but we must commit to love as a priority over being right or winning someone to our side.
That doesn’t mean can’t have opinions, even strong ones, but we maintain unity by committing to love one another from our gospel-transformed lives.
In Philippians, Paul asks the church to complete his joy by "being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind."
That doesn't mean we all think exactly the same way. What it does mean is that we share a common identity in Jesus Christ.
There is no justification, no room in the body of Christ, for us to speak about one another or to one another in an unloving way, even when we disagree.
This goes beyond politics. We must make love a priority in all things as when other see our love for one another Jesus tells us they will see Him.
So, is that you are saying, doing, thinking, or posting expressing love and promoting unity in the body of Christ, even if you disagree?

The priority to fear means to place our fear/reverence/respect appropriately in God and not in man?

Our desire to be right and our motivation to speak and act in ways that hurt others comes out of insecurity and desire to justify ourselves.
When I speak in divisive, slanderous, malicious ways I am motivated by selfishness and a desire to make myself look better or superior to the other person.
It can be a defense mechanism or a offense weapon to harm someone.
In that case, my fear is directed at people and how they are going to look at me.
We must not fear or revere man more than God.
"There is no sin so prevalent, so insidious, and so deep as the sin of fearing people more than we fear God." ~ Kevin DeYoung
So, is what you are saying, doing, thinking, or posting showing reverence of God and leading others to see His goodness, even if you disagree?
Our priority cannot be a party, it cannot be a candidate, it cannot be an issue, or a collection of issues.
Yes we will speak up for justice, for life, for liberty, and for those in need.
We will live with conviction and be involved citizens.
Not at the expense of honor.
Not at the expense of love.
Not at the expense of the glory of God and the great commission.
Let us be citizen that “seek the good of our city, pray to the Lord on it’s behalf” and may others see our good deeds as a display of the manifold goodness of our God!
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