These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
No, this is not a review of the upcoming season of the Showtime series “Homeland.” I’m sure that Carrie, Quinn, and Saul will continue to strategize, lie, cheat, seduce, and “disappear” the necessary bad guys in order to preserve homeland security. Instead this article is a result of my pondering on the verses displayed above and how they may apply to us 21st century American Christians, many of whom have forgotten just what/where their homeland is. And nowhere is this “lapse of memory” more evident than when it comes to American politics.
It doesn’t take too long a visit to the popular social media sights to figure out that many of us have forgotten who/se we are and where we’re going. I think it’s safe to say that a vast number of American Christians no longer see themselves as “strangers and exiles on the earth” and have fallen in love with the “American Dream.” Instead of being Christians who happen to be Americans, they tend to see themselves more as Americans who happen to be Christians. Consequently, they eagerly support the political candidate they think will best keep the dream intact, i.e., please no one come and take all my stuff. I honestly do think it’s our “stuff” that we are so earnestly trying to guard, and we have forgotten that “strangers and exiles” are transient, rarely holding on to anything too tightly.
One also has to be saddened by the divisiveness politics reveals among Christians. So called leaders will vehemently endorse or oppose different candidates, their acolytes will rally behind the leader, and carnal arguments play out on Face Book for all the world to see. And it seems that nowadays, racism of all colors, shapes, and sizes figure into the arguments, creating further division and bitterness. I even read an article the other day in which a pastor blamed the “Left Behind” series for paving the way for a Donald Trump presidential candidacy. Now while I don’t subscribe to Tim Lahaye’s eschatological paradigm….REALLY!!!!????? I could go on, but I think you get my point. Brothers and sisters, all of whom love the Lord, arguing the politics of a homeland that is not even their own.
We know that God works through, in and among the nations of this world. He sets up kingdoms and removes them. And the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that men and women of faith have been used of God to “conquer kingdoms, enforce justice, obtain promises, stop the mouths of lions, quench the power of fire, escape the edge of the sword, made strong out of weakness, become mighty in war, and put foreign armies to flight.”But I would submit to you that most of what we see happening when American Christians become political today is a result of a people who have ceased walking by faith, looking for “that city whose builder is God” and have instead embraced the United States as their ultimate homeland. And out of a disposition of fear, they desperately desire a political leader who will shore up their treasured kingdom.
So, what is the answer to dilemma? First, we must remember that as Christians, our true Homeland is a “better country, that is, a heavenly one.” While we are of this world, this nation, we are now first and foremost citizens of the kingdom of heaven. But we are not merely holding on, waiting for Jesus to come snatch us away from all this trouble. No, in Christ we are men and women of faith who know that TRUE FAITH sometimes mean that the people of God have also “suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
Finally, it is our abiding intimacy with Jesus that ensures our proper understanding of homeland. He who is the author and finisher of our faith, the One who will rule over all the nations of this world, is the overcoming Lord who sits at the right hand of the Father until all his enemies are made into a footstool for his feet. We do not put our trust in political leaders. Nor do we allow nationalism of any kind to separate us from others in the Body of Christ. In fact, I would say that perhaps it is nationalism itself that we American Christians must lay aside as “a weight and the sin which clings so closely,” hindering our walk with Jesus and his people.
Homeland. Home, the city prepared for us by God himself.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.