I love America, but my hope for the future isn't wrapped up in the American flag. If our government imploded tomorrow and all of our freedoms were jerked from our grasp, I would mourn, but I would not throw in the towel.
Some in the Christian community discuss politics as if our future depended on the outcome of every election. They say, "Our Christian freedoms are being eroded." Many post scandalous, hateful, degrading memes about the opposition. Some advocate for a violent overthrow of the government.
But I'm a free man who was bought and paid for by the mercy of God. And since He owns me, I am here only to obey Him and glorify His name. When He bought me, I surrendered my old passport and voluntarily became a citizen of His kingdom. My citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).
Did Jesus or the apostles give a hint of obsession about worldly governments? I can't find it. The only thing Jesus said about government was, "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matt. 22:21, NIV).
Wasn't Caesar corrupt? Weren't elections rigged? Weren't babies killed and innocent people executed? Did the citizens of the Roman empire have a Bill of Rights? The United States can't hold a candle to the corruption of first-century Rome, but Jesus seemed to have no obsession with the quality of a government.
This isn't to say we shouldn't get involved and do good when we can—we should. But we are given specific instructions about how to be a leavening influence on culture, including politics.
Paul wrote, "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1 Tim. 2:1–2).
He's talking about ushering in a revolution by praying and petitioning the Almighty to bring about political change.
He wrote, "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves" (Rom. 13:1–2).
In my opinion, there's no ambiguity here. This passage says what it says. God is in charge.
Yes, work to change your culture, but if it becomes illegal to worship God again, should we just wait until we get the government's approval before we can praise Him? No, the advancing borders of God's kingdom do not wait on worldly systems.
Sure, I openly speak about elections and social issues. I faithfully cast my vote. But all of my hope is in Jesus and His kingdom, not in any political system, including the United States of America.
Jesus said, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matt. 6:33).
I made the decision a long time ago to seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness. Jesus promised that when I make His kingdom my No. 1 priority, God will supply all my needs, no matter how dire the political and social climate appears to be.
So far, Jesus hasn't let me down.
The writer of Hebrews said about the persecuted saints, "They were foreigners and strangers on earth" (11:13c).
Think about that: If I travel outside the United States, I don't have the same rights as the citizens of the countries I visit. I can't express my opinion about their government by voting in their elections. I can't take up residence without getting permission to become a permanent resident. I am completely at the mercy of the systems that govern those countries. As a stranger in a foreign land, I often long for my humble abode on the banks of the Ouachita River.
Accepting that I'm a stranger here means I am liberated from the obligation to put my trust in anything that offers no hope beyond the here and now. It also sparks a desire to be with God in His kingdom where He wipes away every tear (Rev. 21:4).
There's no more death, mourning, crying or pain. No corruption! No racism! No bigotry! No greed! And to top it off, our leader is a holy, righteous, perfect, all-powerful and loving God. We will never see that in our worldly leaders. Never.
This realm in which we live is chock-full of disappointments. Sure, I experience joy and happiness here on earth, but when I look around, I can't help but see pain and suffering: divorce, abuse, injustice, addictions, hatred, unrest, gossip, slander, discord and other ugly sins. So, the promise to dwell with God where all that junk will be eradicated creates an intense longing to be there.
Peter wrote, "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells" (2 Pet. 3:11–13).
I love America. And yet, a better dwelling awaits.
When I tell people to act like kingdom-driven followers of Christ, I am saying to be liberated from the disappointing rules of worldly systems. I'm saying not to let the temporary things of this world control your life.
You will never regret when you turn control of your life over to the one who is eternal; the one who is good. One day, you will dance with joy that you did not give your allegiance to the systems of this world.
Adapted from UNCANCELED: FINDING MEANING AND PEACE IN A CULTURE OF ACCUSATIONS, SHAME, AND CONDEMNATION. Copyright © 2022 by Phil Robertson. Published by Thomas Nelson. Coming Feb. 8, 2022, wherever books are sold.
Phil Robertson is a professional hunter who invented his own duck call and founded the successful Duck Commander Company. He also starred in the popular television series on A&E, Duck Dynasty, and is now the host of the new subscription television series In the Woods with Phil on BlazeTV.com. He is a New York Times bestselling author of Jesus Politics; The Theft of America's Soul, Happy, Happy, Happy and UnPHILtered. He and his wife, Kay, live in West Monroe, Louisiana. He has five children, 18 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. His newest book, Uncanceled: Finding Meaning and Peace in a Culture of Accusations, Shame, and Condemnation, releases Feb. 8, 2022, and will be available wherever books are sold.
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