Last month, I wrote of home. Our geographical homes, the homes of our heart, the homes of our faith. Places where we feel safe, secure and loved. Places where we extend ourselves in service. Places that are very important to us as we live our lives in families and in communities of faith. These are places and people important to us as we work, play, rejoice and mourn.
But there is a different home for us, as well. The Bible talks about us being “in, but not of,” the world, indicating that our true home is in the household of God. We live here, but our home is elsewhere (Hebrews 13:14.) We are sojourners here, and citizens of God’s realm (Ephesians 2:19.)
Sometimes I’m pretty sure I know what that means, and what the implications of that are. We are here to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (the Westminster Catechism). We are here to respond to God’s saving love by serving those whom God has created and loves. I’m grateful that my home, God’s realm, is one that goes beyond time and space, beyond life and death. I know that to humbly take my place in God’s realm means that my primary commitment is to God, and to God’s values, which do not always coincide with my own personal gain.
Other times, I’m less sure. When I see how some people who claim to be Christians behave toward those who do NOT share our Christian faith, I’m not at all sure what it means to share a home with those folks. When I see how some people who claim to be Christians behave even toward those who DO share the faith, I’m still unclear. What does it really mean to belong to each other in God’s realm?
As we face elections in the United States in a couple of weeks, I wonder what it might look like if we were to take a step back and say, “I love this country. I am committed to this country and want the best for her and for all her citizens, and my primary allegiance is to a bigger cause, an eternal one. I am a grateful citizen of this great nation, and God has invited me to be a citizen of an even greater realm. I have accepted God’s invitation, and am committed to serving God first.” I wonder how many of us really believe that. If we DID believe it, wouldn’t we speak differently OF those with whom we differ regarding the politics of this country? If we DID believe it, wouldn’t we speak differently TO those with whom we differ regarding the politics of this country?
My Presbyterian heritage supports the separation of church and state, and my faith (and John Calvin) has also taught me to bring my faith to the actions I take and the decisions I make as a citizen of my country. So when I cast my vote next month, my faith will guide my voting, as I’m sure faith will be a strong factor in how many of you vote. I just wish we could all bring greater grace and more respect to the political process, demonstrating what God might have in mind when we are called to belong to God and to each other in a different realm, a different home.