Citizens of His kingdom

“Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10)

“Several years ago, I accepted an invitation to do a series of lectures in Eastern Europe.  The third leg of the trip was in Romania, and as we prepared to go there from Budapest, we were warned that the border guards in Romania were hostile to Americans.  We boarded a train and rode throughout Hungary until we reached the border of Romania.  There were four of us traveling together.  At one stop two guards got on the train.  They could not speak English, but they indicated rudely that they wanted to see our passports and our luggage.  Suddenly another burly officer boarded the train who did speak some broken English.  The guard began leafing through the Bible.  He finally stopped and looked at our group, and he said, ‘You are not Americans’.  He pointed to the Bible text he had open, which said, ‘We are citizens of the commonwealth of heaven’.  The guard was a Christian, and he turned to his subordinate and told him to not harass us.  With much relief I realized that this guard understood something about the kingdom of God – our first place of citizenship is in the kingdom of God”.

“Many years ago an evangelist named John Guest came from England to Philadelphia.  He recounted to me that he spent his first few days in America going to antiques stores in the Germantown section of the city, particularly those that focused on Revoluntionary War memorabilia.  He came across a placard that dated back to the eighteenth century and contained the phrase ‘We serve no sovereign here’.  He shared with me the dilemma this posed:  ‘How can I preach the gospel of the kingdom of God to people who will not have a sovereign to rule over them’?”

“I experienced a crisis on this same point when I was a student pastor at a small Hungarian refugee church in Western Pennsylvania in a steel mill town.  Someone donated to the church an American flag, and I put the flag across the chancel from the Christian flag.  The next week one of the elders, a war veteran, told me that any time a flag is displayed alongside the American flag, it must be placed in a subordinate position to the American flag.  I thought, How can the Christian flag be subordinate to any national flag?  The kingdom of God trumps every earthly kingdom.  I did not want to break the American law, so I solved the dilemma by removing the flags.  I love America, and I honor its traditions, but I am a Christian first and an American second.  I owe allegiance to the American flag, but I owe a higher allegiance to Christ, because He is my King”.

Reference: Sproul, R. C. (2013).  St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary on Matthew.  Wheaton, IL:  Crossway.

As some of you know, our brother R.C. went home to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ earlier this week on December 14th.  He has officially entered the kingdom of heaven.  His kingdom citizenship is fully consummated.  He was such a godly example to me among countless saints through his faithful exposition of God’s Word.  He leaves behind a legacy of faithfulness to God’s Word and Christ-centered living.  We would do well to heed his example as the author of Hebrews exhorts us, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God.  Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” Hebrews 13:7.

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