It is World Cup time! Here in the United States we don’t always pay a ton of attention to soccer, but the World Cup is truly a global phenomenon. Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, and the World Cup is truly a gathering of the best teams in the world to compete. And hey – the USA won their first match. 🙂
How much should we as Christians be cheering for our countries? Beyond just sports, how much should we be all about our country (called nationalism)? Should we just be about the Kingdom of God? Is it right for Christians in America to cheer for America, and support America’s interests in the world – including the economic and military ones? Believe it or not, these are the sort of questions I think about when watching the World Cup!
We are all born into a country, but made for the eternal. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), and we seek first the Kingdom (Matt 6:33). Our first concern is for the Kingdom of God – the will and cause of Christ in our world. We speak for justice and righteousness – and that may often seem like we are not for our countries. The Kingdom is first, and we are citizens of heaven first – and many Christians need to be reminded of this fact. Our highest agenda is Christ; our economic policy is justice; our politics are to empower peace. There are Christians in every country – many of them are suffering and dying; these are our brothers and sisters and fellow citizens. We need to know the values of Christ and work to use our influence to spread those values.
This does not mean we should not love our countries (or cheer for our countries in the World Cup). Paul had a heart for his fellow Jews (Romans 9:3), and Jesus was called to reach Israel first (Matt 15:24). Loving God does not make you a worse citizen – it should make you a better one. The values of the Kingdom are a blessing to every nation that pursues peace and justice. Christians who live out their faith may not always fit into their cultures, but they will always be a blessing of light to their countries. There are times where Christians need to speak out against their countries or the leadership of their countries – but that does not mean we do not love our countries, it means we are working for the best for our countries. Christians also do not work to force faith on anyone, but – following the Lord – we allow people to make choices and respect their choices. We do work for what is best for our countries, though, and this will include legislation that embodies our values.
Ok – so I have gone from the World Cup to politics, economics, foreign policy, and faith. But mostly it is just about faith. We are children of God – first. That is our first identity and citizenship. We belong to a far off country that is breaking into our world, the foundations have been laid by Christ, and He is ruling in the hearts of those who love Him. We are Kingdom people. Love your country, and family, and house, and job – and put Christ and His Kingdom first.