These words to an old song written by R.E. Winsett, back in 1942, seem to capture the attitude of our world in 2017:
“Troublesome times are here, filling men's hearts with fear.
Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake…”
When those words were penned, Pearl Harbor, in the Hawaiian Islands, had just recently been attacked thrusting the United States of America into a two-front war, in World War II. The people living on the West Coast of the United States were living in constant fear of an imminent attack on their neighborhoods by the Japanese Navy. Many Japanese Americans were rounded up and put into internment camps for the duration of the war. It was a horrible and scary time for everyone in this nation. However, during that time the churches in America were filled each and every Sunday with people calling upon God for His mercy, grace, protection, and wisdom. They especially prayed for His protection over our soldiers overseas, many who made the ultimate sacrifice. The United States was indeed united during that perilous period.
Fast-forward 75 years to our world today with the threat of a nuclear holocaust on the horizon. Indeed troublesome times are here, and once again filling men’s hearts with fear! But unlike America in the 1940’s, people are staying away from the church, avoiding God and the realities of a world gone mad. We have a nation so divided that we can’t even enjoy a simple football game anymore. Liberals hate conservatives and Christians, and unfortunately, Christians and conservatives react in kind. Violence is filling our land as passions are running hot, and toning down the rhetoric doesn’t seem likely. Chaos is the rule of the day! So what are we to do?
As believers in Jesus Christ, we MUST remember that we are citizens of 2 worlds. First, and foremost, we are citizens of God’s kingdom. Paul wrote, “For our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20, NKJV) Therefore, our first allegiance belongs to God. For, “He has saved us from the kingdom of darkness. He has brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” (Colossians 1:13, NIRV) So our top priority as a believer is found in the words of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV) And we must keep this in the forefront of our minds as we deal with our citizenship in this world.
Second, we are citizens of the United States of America or whatever country in which your citizenship lies. As believers, we should be willing to die in defense of The Faith just as many Americans have died for the honor of our flag. As American citizens and residents, we must hold their sacred honor in the highest earthly regard. We, as believers, are to honor and respect them while maintaining a good testimony before those who are not believers and do not behave as they should. Here again, Paul exhorts us, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live.” (I Thessalonians 4:11-12, NLT)
When it comes to righteousness versus unrighteousness believers must take a bold stand for righteousness and truth every time, all the time. But when it comes to football games and players standing or not standing during the national anthem, I think we would be wise to follow Paul’s instructions in I Thessalonians 4:11-12. We have a much higher calling than to be entangled with matters that are not eternal.
On Sunday morning, October 8th at 10:30, I will begin a new message series from II Timothy on “Learning to Live Above the Chaos.” In this four-message series, Paul gives us some healthy instructions on how to maintain our sanity in insane times.