Where Is Our Citizenship?
Last month I began this series on voting. A few people have asked questions about voting and so this is my attempt to try and shed some biblical light on the subject. Last month I focused on what we DO know.
This month I want us to think about the long and short of things. Full disclosure: I’ve been aided in my thinking via John Piper. Let’s look at what Paul tells people about marriage in I Cor. 7:29-31:
But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none;30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.
Paul’s point is that Christians are to look at marriage in light of eternity. That doesn’t mean glibly, or indifferently, or as though it’s disposable. It has high value (see Heb. 13:4). But the fact remains marriage is short, eternity is long (and according to Jesus we won’t be married in heaven). The form of this world is passing away.
Paul says believers are to weep differently, rejoice differently, buy differently, use the world differently. Why? Because our time has been shortened. How so? I think what Paul means is that in coming to faith in Christ, we know our permanent, ‘real’ existence is future. We’re not having our best life now, it comes later. So in light of that truth, this life has been shortened in our understanding. The world is passing away. According to His promise we are looking for new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells (I John 2:17; II Peter 3:11-13).
This applies to voting, too. Our time has been shortened. Believers understand our citizenship is in heaven from which we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20-21). We are aliens and strangers (I Peter 2:11). So we vote as though not voting. We evaluate elections and voting in light of our shortened time, in light of eternity.
Back in high school we had student body president, pep club president, letter club president, and of course vice presidents, secretaries, treasurers. We had more voting opportunities in a school of 50 than the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. In the first few years of high school, those positions and elections seemed so important, so necessary and critical to the future of the LaGrange Longhorns. Those leadership roles certainly provided a degree of instruction and experience in working with groups and decision making. But by the time the second semester of my senior year rolled around, the urgency and gravity of who would be president of the Letter Club was in the past. I was headed out the door, my time had been shortened. By the way: No more Longhorn Pep Club, LaGrange High closed down about 20 years ago.
The older we get – and hopefully wiser – the more we realize we live in the second semester of our senior year. It’s not disdain or cynicism with which we look at elections and offices of government. They have their God-given role. But not only are they for a temporary season in our lives, those in office are not ultimately in control. Student body presidents have school superintendents. Kings and senators and presidents are no different:
Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings… For His dominion is an everlasting dominion…He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can [ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ – Daniel 2:20-21; 4:34-35
So we consider elections in light of the long and short of things. In light of where our citizenship really is. In light of the One who is moving all things according to His sovereign will. In light of new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells. Next month I’ll address the freedom we have to vote, or not. And I’ll try to give us some ‘hooks’ in thinking through whether or not to vote and for whom we should vote.
Headed for Home,