Carry Your Passport at All Times
When you travel abroad, you must carry your passport at all times. I am told that in Europe and Africa, passports are often used for identification even within countries, as the countries are small and people frequently travel between them, and often have their passports with them at all times, as a matter of course. So, a passport is your personal identification of your country of citizenship, kind of like your driver’s license or your school ID. It tells the world that either by birth, or choice through naturalization, you are a citizen of America or of Russia, or of Malawi, etc. It is an identification of the country to whom you owe your national allegiance, whose laws you are called to obey (for Christians, subject to the things we learned last year in the series on God, Man and Society), the country which is your culture, your history, your home, and probably the country where most of your family lives. So, you always want to be able to, and are required to, produce your passport so, through the passport, others can be assured that you are who you say you are. Thus, you would carry it at all times.
I am also told that some people carry multiple passports, where they have dual citizenship — say their parents were citizens of two different countries, or neither was a citizen of the country in which the child was born, then the child most often would have citizenship in his birth nation, and in the nation(s) of the country (–ies) of citizenship of his parents.
Similarly, diplomats are given fancy papers to prove their appointments as representatives of their respective countries and they formally present those fancy papers, their official credentials, to the authorities in the countries to which they are sent, for such proofs.
Now, we have a similar, but importantly different citizenship structure as Christians, and as Christians, we all, also, are diplomats (we are “ambassadors for Christ”, II Corinthians 5:20). But we don’t have a passport so naming us, nor do we have fancy papers, or imposing official credentials, so naming us. Our fancy papers, our passport, as Christians, is simply the history of our lives, the testimony, our lives as living epistles. What we choose to do in different circumstances, and how we balance those choices, when sinful, with repentance and change, become the passport, the statement of our national identity, of the nation of God, whose laws we are called, and have chosen, to obey, of the country which is our culture, the source of our history, your home, and, indeed, the country where most of our family lives. We Christians each produce that passport, those diplomatic credentials of our ambassadorship, as our mind thinks and decides, and as our heart considers, and as our emotions ebb and flow, and as our body acts in word and deed. Thus, we Christians are always carrying our passports with us, and we produce them even without pulling them out of our pockets or purses. Our Christian passports are self-evident in our lives.
Our US Constitution and other founding documents acknowledge that our Creator endowed us with certain rights, and those rights are held by “all persons born or naturalized” into citizenship in our country. Naturalization is a choice one makes, and one having made that choice (salvation) goes through a schooling process (discipleship), and then renounces other citizenship (loyalty to sin) and pledges loyalty to USA, and then is received into the fellowship of citizenship by naturalization, or choice.
Obviously, that is what we do, in coming through Christ into the kingdom of God. We choose and, if you will bear with me in the metaphor, we are naturalized as citizens into the kingdom of God. And God does not want us to try to hold multiple passports at once. Indeed, His word says we can’t do that! Let’s see.
Jesus, Himself, considered that He was, and is, the King of the Jews and not subject to Roman authority (John 19:9-11). Jesus did not consider that He needed to carry a Roman passport. Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, and He used that natural-world passport to get Himself to Rome to evangelize the Romans, spreading the Gospel of Christ, his true Kingdom, the source of his true passport.
Jesus was, and is, concerned about duality of citizenship, of multiple passports, of one hand with the Christian passport and one with the passport to sin, and He didn’t like it and knew it would not work in the Kingdom of God. See Luke 16:13, Jesus speaking, “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Jesus made clear that we had to be clear in our choices of naturalization, of service.
In the history of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, we come to understand three things about God’s view of this issue of duality or, or splitting of, loyalty: First, that our citizenship in the Kingdom of God separates us from citizenship in any nation on earth and, second, that God will not suffer us to be double-minded about our citizenship and, third, that He will always supply His remnant with protection.
Let’s look at this history: Genesis 18, Abraham and Sarah were visited by the Lord with two angels and Abraham and Sarah were promised a child, in their advance age. But, also, the Lord had a discussion about Sodom and Gomorrah, and particularly and in detail about Sodom, where Lot lived with his family. The colloquy between Abraham and the Lord was that the Lord was going to destroy those two cities because their sin was very grave (serious), and Abraham was pleading with the Lord for temperance, so as not to destroy the city of Sodom, where Lot lived with his family, and the righteous remnant living there, even a remnant as small as ten people in the whole of Sodom, and God agreed. God has a tremendous heart of protection of any remnant of faithful believers. However, Genesis 19, when the two angels got to Sodom, and found Lot sitting in the gate of the city, and over the night the angels found that the only righteous man in the whole city of Sodom was Lot, himself. Thus, the angels determined to destroy the whole city of Sodom, in accordance with the agreement the Lord made with Abraham to spare the city if ten righteous could be found there. Then, the angels warned Lot to take his family out of Sodom so as not to be destroyed, and Lot’s sons-in-law laughed at him, so he had only his wife and two unmarried daughters to take to safety. But the angels gave an admonition, a condition, verse 17, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.“
So in this history of Lot, we see these three principles of citizenship in God’s kingdom, three principles we must know and understand if we are to sustain this testimony of our Christian passport: First, that our citizenship in the Kingdom of God separates us from citizenship in any nation on earth (Lot and his immediate family had to leave Sodom and all their property behind) and, second, that God will not suffer us to be double-minded about our citizenship (the angels gave Lot no choice but to leave) and, third, that God will always supply His remnant with protection (God allowed Lot and his women to leave). The underlying sad thing here is the double-mindedness of Lot’s wife, verse 26, “But his wife looked back behind him and she became a pillar of salt.” She violated the first and second principles of citizenship in God’s kingdom and therefore did not enjoy the fruit of the third principle, and she caused her husband and two unmarried daughters to do without her continued life with them. Sad!
The history of Lot and his wife was very important to Jesus, and His explanation to His disciples, whom we are today, Luke 17:32-33. “Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.“
What Jesus was teaching against was the double-mindedness that James told us (James 1:7-8) would keep us from receiving anything from the Lord, would make us unstable in all our ways.
Paul later explained all this in several of his letters: In Colossians 1:21-23, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies (of God) in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless, and above reproach in His sight – if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard.” And in Ephesians 2:11-12, “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh – who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands – that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.“
Paul was explaining what Jesus had taught: When we were citizens of the world, when we carried as our essential identity, the passport of the world, we were aliens of the kingdom of God, being without Him, and without hope.
However, Paul continued his teaching in I Peter 2:11 (NIV) that, when saved by the blood of Christ and not moved away from the hope of the gospel of Christ, we supernaturally become aliens and strangers in the world as we have become citizens of the kingdom of God. And in Hebrews 11, speaking of the Fathers of Faith from Abel to Abraham, and Sister Sarah, verse 13 says, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises but having seen them from afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers (aliens) and pilgrims on the earth.
When we leave behind our earthly citizenship, our earthly passport, and receive in faith our eternal citizenship, our eternal passport, in the kingdom of God, something very supernatural happens to us: we become, like Lot, but not like his wife, willing to be First, separated from citizenship in any nation on earth (Lot and his immediate family had to leave Sodom and all their property behind) and, second, so loving God in obedience that we, too, discipline ourselves and do not suffer ourselves to be double-minded about our citizenship (the angels gave Lot no choice but to leave) and, third, that God will always supply His remnant with protection if we accept his admonitions and conditions to that protection.
In his book, the prophet Isaiah summed this up, Chapter 1:2-20, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: ‘I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; the ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know; my people do not consider.’ Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters (not just corrupted, but corrupting others)! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward. Why should you be stricken again (we ask children, and we were asked, are you sure you want to be chastised again?)? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; strangers devour your land in your presence; and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a hut in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. Unless the Lord of hosts had left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been made like Gomorrah. (Lot was the male remnant in Sodom, just Lot and his three women! And God protected them, if they would but follow His admonitions and conditions.) Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah: ‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?’, says the Lord. ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs and goats. When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat of the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword’; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
The choice is ever before us, just as Isaiah said, and just as the angels said to Lot and his women. And most people want to make that choice, especially in their early days of salvation, thinking that they can continue to carry their earthly passports, along with their passports in the kingdom of God, keeping one foot in heaven and one foot in sin. But in maturity (perfection, completeness), we have learned that “it ain’t so”. We must, Isaiah 1:17, Cease to do evil, and verse 18, our sins need to be washed away, and verse 19, we must be willing and obedient to God! Only by such maturity – leaving behind double-mindedness and instability – can we truly carry our Christian passport at all times, showing it to God and to all those whom we meet, at all times. Are your walking in that maturity? Are your not but are ready to walk in that maturity? Would you like prayer with me today to walk in that maturity – to be a mature citizen in the kingdom of God? Come now, if you wish, and we will pray.
God bless His word for us today. May it be fruitful and multiply. Amen.