Where is our citizenship?
When I was a young man, I wanted to be a cosmopolitan "citizen of the world." I'd travel everywhere and live local, eschew nationalism, etc. Then I lived abroad for a bit, and I realized just how much I appreciate the homeland of my birth. I returned just when the "And I'm proud to be an American" anthem was popular, and I was able to sing along!
Also, I love my US passport. My US passport isn't a free ticket to allow me to commit crimes abroad, but it does give me a comfortable feeling when I'm in a country whose people are oppressed by their government. I have a sense of immunity. I can also share in the brotherhood of the expat communities wherever I go, because of my American citizenship.
Now, the Bible tells us that our REAL citizenship is in heaven. (https://biblehub.com/philippians/3-20.htm). What does that mean, as I apply it to life?
For me, it means that the customs of the place where I'm living don't have to be mine; it's okay for me to be an outsider.
I visualize carrying an invisible passport that offers me protection from the oppression of the lands I'm "temporarily" living in. My heavenly passport allows me to mentally break free from the trap of viewing this life as permanent ... I recognize that I'm a sojourner here on earth. A tourist/traveler.
My sense of the brotherhood of the saints increases when I travel outside of the US. I actually sense that each church building I see is an embassy or consulate office of sorts. I don't mean the cathedrals, necessarily, though I've learned not to judge a church by its building. And I know that when I enter a city I can find out where the expats congregate, and then by asking some questions I can find Brothers and Sisters among them, introduce myself, and find a loving welcome.
The trick is to keep heavenly citizenship in my mind when I'm in the land of my political citizenship. It's more difficult, here at home. I am a sojourner, this world is not my home.
New Living Translation
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
Thursday, December 19, 2019
Sunday, June 30, 2019
Giving it to God
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7
When the home church met at our house for waffles yesterday, I asked everyone to answer this question:
"How do you give it to God?"I made the question open-ended, saying that the "it" in the sentence could refer to anxiety, a hard situation, unhealthy relationship, repentance, grief, etc. The responses from this group were amazing, and I am listing them in no specific order.
"Here God, catch!"
One friend of a friend, when confronted by something bigger than himself, would write the situation down on a paper, crumple, and toss upwards. "This is too big for me--catch!" he would say. The paper always came back down, but often the burden would lift. It turns out that turning our hearts toward Him and intending to give is often the most important piece. But sometimes the paper would fall back down and with it the burden, and in that case the friend would pick it up and toss again, saying "Oops. Missed! Here, let's try again!"
Visualize the Altar
I shared about a sermon I heard in college that has stuck with me. The pastor mimed having a heavy burden in both hands and said "This is what we do. We go to the altar and submit ourselves, burdens and all, to the Lord. And then we thank God for taking our burdens and go. ... Ah, some of you were looking away and missed it. I'll show you again." What he had mimed was that he had lifted the burden to the altar and rested it there, but not removed his hands from the burden. Thus, when he turned to go, he was still carrying the load.
This doesn't elucidate the process of letting go, and in fact we couldn't come up with any formula for how to trigger a release of our cares to God, but it provides for me a mental image for the importance of actually letting it go. The metaphor helps me.
God: it's to Him that we cast our cares (1 Peter 5:7), but sometimes we need someone human to help with this "casting." Several members of the group confirmed that seeking help from a counselor or friend had been key for releasing their burdens. Also, in James 5:16 the Bible directs us to include others in the process as we release the burdens of our sins.
Mentally go through the things that are most valuable (did you know that you can't be anxious about losing/missing something if it's not valuable to you?) in your life and put them into your open hands. Affirm that they are not more important than your relationship with the Creator. This list includes material things, opportunities & future hopes, your abilities, and your people. When you've completed the list and prioritized him above all, ask him "Jesus, is there anything else that my heart is holding onto in preference to you?" One time when I asked God the "anything else" question he answered with a very specific _____ and I realized I had more releasing to do. The rest of that day's story, as it played out, is a good God story--ask Tim or Janet about it sometime!
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