Tony Evans - Kingdom Citizenship
Today, Christians find themselves as the visiting team in the culture. When a pro team is a visiting team, that means they're going to battle in enemy territory. Not only do they have the other team against them, but the crowd is against them as well. Today, largely due to the failure of Christians and the church, we have now become the visiting team. We are being booed in the culture as the church and our Christian faith, and even the Lord Jesus Christ is being marginalized, insulted, rejected, or, more often than not, simply ignored, even though God's name will come up from time to time. But even when you are a visiting team, you're still expected to win.
What we have today is secularism, humanism, and all forms of idolatry that have invaded our culture and our world. And God has called his people, not to sit on the sidelines, but to get in the game. This goes beyond a candidate or a group of candidates. This has to do with the role of Christians in the culture. No matter how you voted, whether you're happy or sad about which candidate won or lost, God is still calling you to be Christian. I love the way Philippians chapter 3, verse 20 puts it, which says, "For our citizenship is in heaven".
So I wanna talk to you about now being a kingdom citizen. Now that we can push all of the bantering behind us, it's time for Christians to decide that you're gonna be Christian, no matter whether your party won, your candidate won. It's time now for there to be kingdom citizens, for your citizenship is in heaven. Luke 16:16, Jesus says, "My Father gave me a kingdom and I give you a kingdom," because he calls his followers to be kingdom citizens. A kingdom citizen is a visible, verbal follower of Christ who seeks to bring the perspective of heaven and deposit them into the concerns of the culture.
You see, far too many Christians are too earthly minded that they're no heavenly good, because they're so aligned with the culture that they've lost sight that their citizenship is not first here. I love the way 1 Peter 2:11 says, says, "You are aliens and strangers," that your citizenship is not first on these shores. Now, you are a resident here, but your ultimate allegiance is to another King, another kingdom in another location. When you have a passport, it allows you to enter foreign countries, but you enter foreign countries as a citizen of the homeland. You don't enter foreign countries as a citizen of that country unless you're trying to give up your citizenship in the homeland. No, you are a citizen of heaven. You belong to another kingdom. He says clearly, verse 20 of Philippians 3, "For our citizenship is in heaven".
Now, Paul is writing to the city of Philippi. Philippi was located 800 miles from the city of Rome. So what Paul does is he uses the principle of citizenship of Philippi to make a principle to Christians. Philippians, even though you're located 800 miles from Rome, your citizenship is in Rome, in terms of your earthly allegiance. So they were informed by Roman customs, they were informed by Roman laws, they were informed by Roman influence, even though they were 800 miles from Rome. I know we are a long way from heaven, but our citizenship is to be connected there. You and I are to be informed by heaven's customs, heaven's laws. Just like Philippi was informed by Caesar, you and I are to be informed by the Lord. And that's why we have no full allegiance here. You belong to another King and another kingdom, 'cause your citizenship, he says, is in heaven. You're supposed to be getting your instructions from above.
When people immigrate to this country, they say, "I wanna belong here. I wanna be a citizen of the United States of America". They lift their hand and they pledge allegiance to become a citizen of here, which means that the old home no longer has dominant sway. Far too many Christians who name the name of Jesus Christ are letting the old way have sway. That's why, when things don't work out like they think they ought to work out on the earthly realm, they lose it. He says you are now a citizen of heaven, or, as Colossians 1:13 says, "You've been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son". You're in another kingdom now. You are a resident here. This is not permanent locale. This is temporary passport location. And you ought to treat it that way, which means that you're not gonna act like this is defining you anymore.
You take your stand, and somebody ask you, "Are you a Democrat"? You say, "Which issue are you talking about? 'Cause I'mma take that issue, I'mma put it against the Word of God, and then I'll tell you whether I'm a Democrat right now". Somebody tells you you're a Republican... Which issue you talking about? I'mma take the Bible, look at the Bible based on that issue, say, "Well, I'm a Republican right now," why? 'Cause I'm a kingdom all the time. I'm 24/7 kingdom. That's why you must be a kingdom independent, and you must roll forward now, whether you are happy or sad today. You must roll forward as a representation of heaven. Because you and I are the visiting team, and they're not gonna applaud you on either side once you start disagreeing when they disagree with your Master. That's why he says in the previous verse, he complains about those who set their minds on earthly things.
Verse 19 of Philippians 3. He says stop thinking like an earthling. Stop thinking like a secularist. We need some kingdom citizens. We need some citizens who understand that they are to think heavenly, not earthly, not man's wisdom. James 3 says there's a wisdom that comes from above, then there's a wisdom that comes from demons, and he calls that "earthly wisdom". He says you are now citizens of heaven. You are to get your instructions, what goes into your mind and informs your decision is no longer earth. It's on earth, it relates to earth. I love John 18 because in John 18, they ask Jesus a question. They ask Jesus, "Are you a king"? He says in verse 33, "Are you the king of the Jews? Okay, everybody talking about you a king. Are you the king of the Jews"? Jesus answers in verse 36: "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting".
So if you out there fighting, if you out there inappropriately expressing how you are frustrated, he said, "You not part of my kingdom, 'cause my kingdom doesn't roll like that". "Or my servants would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not of this realm". Then he says in verse 37, "You say correctly I am a king. For this I have been born and for this I have come into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who's of the truth hears my voice". You know why we're not hearing from heaven? 'Cause we don't want the truth. So your first question as a kingdom citizen is what does God say? How does he feel? What does he think? What does he want? And if I don't know it, I'mma find somebody who does know it, who can validate it by the Word of God.
And if the Word of God contradicts it, then I got to reframe my thinking, because I'm no longer an earthling. God sits high, he looks low, and he calls on his people to follow him, to take their stand with him, and to get his perspective, because you are citizens of heaven first. Problem today is, we've got double-minded Christians. The Bible says, James 1:5, "Let not that person think they will receive anything from the Lord". A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. You are not a part-time citizen. You're a full-time citizen and happen to be a resident down here. So you think as a resident, you vote as a resident, you appeal to policies as a resident, because you now are a kingdom citizen.
God has a problem: he's got too many Benedict Arnolds. Yeah, he does. You know Benedict Arnold was a turncoat, somebody who goes to the other side, who leaves where their loyalty ought to be, and they're working for the wrong team. Yes, you can be a Democrat, but you can't have an allegiance there, not an ultimate allegiance. You can be with the Republicans, but you can't have an ultimate allegiance there, why? Because you belong to another king, you belong to another kingdom. And God looks at us and he sees a Benedict Arnold church, not just individuals, he sees whole churches that have gone rogue, 'cause you see them compromising. You see them walking away from God's standing on life, God's standing on family, God's standing on justice, God's standing on government, God's standing on a whole plethora of issues.
Talking about "I think," "I feel," "I want," "my perspective is". No, no, no! Uh-uh! You are a citizen of heaven. And until we get that kind of radicalization among God's followers, we will not see the supernatural enter into the natural to bring order to a chaotic environment. And the mess that our society is in, our culture is in, our country is in, and our world is in, when we look at one problem after another problem after another problem, we'd better get the Lord back in this. And that's the church's job: to bring God back in it, to do it with the right spirit, with the right attitude, to do it with legitimate unity, to do it based on truth, but to do it.
Until we kinda get that kind of church, that takes its stand because we're citizens of heaven, and he says if you're a citizen of heaven, in Philippians chapter 3, he says, "From which we also eagerly wait for a Savior that is the Lord Jesus Christ". You hear that? He said, look, you gonna have to get Jesus in his proper role here. Jesus made it plain: "All authority is given unto me, in heaven and on earth". Matthew chapter 28:16 to 20, he said, "Look, I'm in charge here now". But Christians don't believe that. We believe the world's in charge, the president is in charge, the Congress is in charge. No, no, no. Jesus is in charge. Remember God's philosophy of history? Ephesians chapter 1, verse 10. God's goal is to summarize all things. Did you catch that?
I didn't stutter, and neither did God. "All things," he says, "ought to be summarized in Jesus Christ". He concludes, verse 22 and 23 of Ephesians, chapter 1. He is the head of all things, but he's only been given to the church, so God is gonna decide what he does in this country. He's gonna decide what he's gonna do in any country based on what the church does. So as you've heard me say many times, if we don't fix the church house, we can forget the White House. If we don't fix the church house, we can forget the House of Congress, why? Because God works through the church to the principalities and the powers and the authorities in the culture. Too many have surrendered their passports.
You know, Spain had what was known as "fifth columnists". Let me tell you about fifth columnists. When they were going to invade a country, a year before the invasion, they would send in people to become part of the culture. So doctors would become doctors in the culture that would be invaded sometime later. Lawyers would become lawyers, teachers would become teachers. Families would set up shop in the culture. Businesspeople would set up shop in the culture. See, they would set up shop in the culture. You know what they were? They were saboteurs. They invaded the culture, but they represented Spain. So they were setting things up for the big invasion. They were called fifth columnists because Spain marched in four columns, but the fifth columnists, who were sent in early, were to set things up for the big invasion.
Well, there's a big invasion coming to town, I hope you know that. 'Cause Jesus is coming back, that's the big invasion. You talk about a pandemic, that's gonna be a pandemic. When Jesus comes back, you talk about stuff being shook up and tore up from the floor up? That's what gonna happen when Jesus comes back. But he has some fifth columnists, folk he's sending ahead of time. You and me, your family and my family, your church, my church. He sent us in ahead of time to set it up. We are his fifth columnists who've been sent in to set things up for the big invasion.
You know, one of the reasons that so many Jews lost their lives under Hitler is because the church got silent? Let me tell you what Hitler said. Hitler, an evil man leading an evil empire. He wanted the "final solution" to get rid of the Jews. So he told the pastors, he said, "Now, look, y'all go to church and take care of their souls. Well, you can have their souls. But I got everything else, so you don't touch politics, you know, you don't touch society, you don't touch nothing, you just go to church, and I'mma leave you alone while you in church". That's what he told them.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer went in and said, "Oh no, oh no, oh no. We don't roll like that. We don't just tell people what to do in the pew while you acting crazy in the culture, while you passing wrong laws in the culture. We don't do that". But he had gotten the church so anesthetized, so secularized, that as the train went by some churches, with Jewish people crying out for help as they were taken to the camps to be killed, they would sing their songs from the hymn book. And when one of the people was asked, "When you heard the people crying and begging for help as they passed your churches, and you were singing, what did you do"? The person said, "We sang louder". We sang louder.
Too many Christians and churches are singing louder while lives are going into hell, while peoples' lives are being destroyed by unrighteousness or by injustice. And we sing louder, preach longer, without becoming citizens of heaven invading the culture with the worldview of the King, the Lord Jesus Christ. So, what are you gonna do? What am I gonna do? What are we gonna do? First of all, you gonna be publicly known as a citizen of heaven. You don't mind, you don't mind saying, in the right way, with the right heart, "My first allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ".
Don't even say God, 'cause that's vague. Let's get specific. My first allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we know which God you talking about. Then you'll not only gonna be a good churchgoer, you gonna engage the culture. You gonna bring a Christian influence to the sphere of your influence. You going to go to the city council meetings. You wanna hear what's happening in your community and whether there are unjust practices that are not being addressed in your community, whether there's evil happenings that need to be reversed. You wanna make sure that the police are handling things in the right way, but that the citizens are also responding in the right way, because you don't play favorites, you play kingdom. And so you take your stand as a citizen of heaven, bringing it, drawing it down to earth. You take your stand.
Churches, don't just preach pie-in-the-sky sermons as though they don't have anything to do with the world in which we live. We challenge people. How not to be doctors, but to be God's representative in the medical field, so the medical field sees what God looks like when God helps hurting people. That lawyers are not just lawyers, they're God's representative in the Bar Association so the Bar Association gets to see what God looks like when God tries a case.
That teachers are not just teachers, they're God's representative in the educational field so the educational field sees what God looks like when God teaches a lesson. Where businesspeople are not just businesspeople, but they're God's representative in business so that the business world sees what God looks like when God cuts a deal. When housewives and homemakers are not just homemakers, they're God's representative in the home to make sure that the home reflects the character of God. Where men have defined their male-hood not by the culture, but by what God says a man ought to be, and the responsibility of a man spiritually, and how he ought to lead his family and relate to his mate and raise his children.
We are trying to create kingdom people who are citizens of heaven and not mimics of the culture. When we do that, when we go that way, let's get this straight. There's no salvation in politics. We've been acting like politics is the savior. Boy, if we get the right person in, we going to be saved! You don't get it. We don't get it. If God is not postured properly, it doesn't matter who you elect. It is the absence or presence of God in an environment. That is why the more secular you become, the less God you will see. The less God you will see, the more chaos you will deal with.
So the church better shake up, wake up, and get up so that we can see what God can do if Christ be not come through a church where the citizens understand where our true citizenship lies. One day, a man was going to the shoe shop. The shoe shop closed at 5 o'clock. But by the time he got through the traffic, he got there at 5:01. He was late. But he could see in the window that the shoe repairman was still there inside. The door had been locked, so he knocked on the door. The shoe man says, "I'm closed". He said, "Please, please, please, please, I didn't mean to be late. Please, I really gotta get my shoes". The proprietor opened the door and let him in. He said, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry that I'm late".
But then the gentleman noticed something. He says, "I see the lot where this shoe shop is located is all cleared, there's no cars. Are you getting ready to go home"? Owner says, "I'm already home". "No, I mean, leave the shop and go home". He said, "I'm already home". Said, "Well, what do you mean, you're already home"? He said, "See those steps over there? See those steps over there in the corner? I'm getting ready to go upstairs. I live up there. I just work down here. I live up there, but I just work down here".
If you gonna be a kingdom citizen, whose citizenship is in heaven, who is a visible, verbal follower of Jesus Christ, bringing the concerns of heaven and executing them in the culture, you live up there, you just work down here. Now, if you hear my voice, and you don't have a passport to heaven, you need to get one. You need to get a passport to heaven. You can get them for free. Doesn't cost you a thing. Jesus Christ is giving away passports to heaven to anybody who comes to him for it. The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Everybody has failed God. But on the cross, Jesus Christ took your sin, your failure, and he bore the penalty that you and I were due because of our own sin.
And Jesus says, "If you will come to me, recognizing your sinfulness and your inability to save yourself, and if you will come to me to be your Savior, I will take my goodness and give it to you. 'Cause I took your badness and suffered on the cross for it. We will do the great exchange. I'll exchange your bad for my good so that you will stand before God as somebody who has never sinned". And you will be given a passport to heaven. Now, I want you to live it out on earth, but your eternal destiny will be secure because I'm giving passports away to all who come to me for it.