There are many things this Canadian appreciates about living in the USA: I am not only free but also welcome to publicly tell people about Jesus on Sunday mornings and during the week; the people of Rock Valley are graciously enfolding me and my family into the community; the 4th of July festivities around here are fun and include delicious food!
But when Canada Day (1st of July) and Independence Day come around each year, I remind myself that my national identity is not what primarily defines me. Hear me carefully: I am grateful for Canada and the United States and the freedom we often take for granted. However, when we are in Christ, before we are an American or a Canadian or any other nationality, we are citizens of God’s Kingdom already becoming evident here on earth. This citizenship transcends all the geo-political borders I can find on a globe. This citizenship even transcends the feelings I harbor over people with national and ethnic backgrounds different than mine. There is something that binds me together with other believers across the street and around the world – regardless of denomination – that’s stronger than any flag, anthem, constitution, or charter. And Kingdom citizenship is eternal – something no passport from any earthly country can promise nor even the threat of losing my freedom can defeat. As the apostle Paul says, “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”
Baptism reminds me of this reality. Pastors Bobby, Mark, and I just wrapped up a series of messages on the sacraments here at Trinity CRC. When I spoke on baptism, I found Lee C. Camp’s book Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World very helpful – and challenging, too. Here’s a quote that didn’t make it into my message but is worth reading nevertheless…
At the heart of baptism lies an astonishing claim, an astonishing reality: All the division, all the social groupings, all the forms of identity that serve to categorize, divide, estrange, and alienate one from the other – these are broken down. There is, for those who have been clothed with Christ in baptism, a new identity, an identity that transcends race, economic class, ethnic grouping, and citizenship. (page 140)
Flags image found via Google.