Reflections on Citizenship and Celebration

Can you believe the month of June has arrived already? Summer is truly upon us! If your last day of school has not already passed, it is very soon coming. And the season of picnics and parades is here!

Summer used to mark the growing season—the time during which it was not practical for the kids to be in school; there was just too much work to do on the farm. Now, in the industrialized world, summer is a time of leisure, marked more by the celebration of national holidays than by slopping hogs, or hoeing corn out of bean fields!

The month of June is bracketed by such celebration, stretching between Memorial Day at the end of May and Independence Day at the beginning of July. The former remembers those who have died in military service, and the latter our nation’s birthday. Taken together, these events remind us not only of the blessing of our personal, political freedom, but also of its high cost when measured by the number of human lives lost to attain it, then defend it.

No nation in world history has known the quality of freedom we have enjoyed. No nation has experienced such a vast and varied a collection of intellectually gifted and morally rooted men to serve as their national architects as we have had in our “Founding Fathers.” And no nation has honored and exhibited the principles of just war as we have throughout our 240-plus-year history.

There is much to be proud of in that history, and every portion of it points to the provision of a sovereign God who tells us in His Word that, “He removes kings and sets up kings” (Dan.2:21, emphasis mine). He raises up nations and brings them down! Translation: the United States of America does not have the history it has apart from the sovereign providence of God!

However, that very truth puts professing Christians in a quite vulnerable place. It is all too easy to weave US history together with our Christian faith in such a way that almost any threat (real or perceived) to our personal liberty can feel like an attack on our faith! And any moral legislation we disagree with can generate rather significant confusion regarding whether we should view the issue in question more as a citizen of the US or as a citizen of heaven!

Bottom line: our heavenly citizenship trumps our citizenship on earth. But the heavenly also informs the earthly, meaning we pursue our citizenship here in light of our citizenship there! We live in the US as Christians, which means that, grateful as we are for our personal freedom, we exercise it in light of our spiritual freedom in Christ! And grateful as we are for all those who have given their lives securing our political freedom, we actually worship the One who gave His life that we might live eternally free! He is the One we celebrate, all seasons of the year!