Abraham was called to a land he would never own to start a nation he would never see. Instead he meandered around the ancient Near East like an aimless vagabond. Moses spent the last forty years of his life wandering around the Sinai Peninsula with two million of perhaps the most ungrateful and stubborn people to ever grace the planet Earth. David was anointed the second king of Israel before he spent the better part of sixteen years on the run from the first king of Israel. Caves were his houses and stones were his pillows. Elijah spent time bumming free food off a destitute widow and her son while on the lam from the most evil king and queen combo in Israel’s history. John the Baptist made the wilderness his home making clothes out of camel hair (sounds itchy) and meals out of bugs (sounds gross). Jesus Himself declared that not even the Son of Man had a place to lay down His head, and after His resurrection He commissioned the Apostle Paul to plant churches all over Asia Minor and southern Europe, never staying more than two years in any one city.
These were men who wandered. They were considered extreme and, in many cases, dangerous. They were men without a home. They stood out, never really fit in and often made enemies on multiple fronts. They were men with no country.
Admittedly, I have it better than these guys do. I’m typing this on a laptop while sitting before my electric fireplace in my favorite recliner. But, in a way I commiserate with them. As politics and faith move in seemingly opposite directions, I find myself ever more aware of the fact that I don’t really fit into either political camp. In a land that is quick to label and even quicker to judge you by those labels, it becomes infuriatingly frustrating to express one’s views before somebody picks up verbal stones and starts casting them at you with cries of “liberal!” or “right-wing-nut!” depending on your stance. Perhaps you can commiserate.
- You love women and want them to be treated fairly, but you hate the vulgar, abortion-demanding, man-hating movement that feminism has become.
- Your heart breaks for refugees and you know we, with all our wealth, should do something, anything, to help, but you’re not sure how to do so wisely.
- You believe marriage is for one man and one woman, but also believe that gays should be treated with compassion and be granted the same legal protections that straight people enjoy.
- You are strongly pro-life, but you are also convinced that no amount of legislation change will fix the abortion problem in America.
- You are anti boycott (nothing more to say, I just think 99% of the reasons people boycott companies are plain silly).
Abortion. Refugees. Gay Marriage. These are all issues that Christians can and should have informed opinions about. They are also infinitely complex not to mention they serve as virtual landmines that threaten to turn any reasonable conversation into flaming wreckage. And try as I might, the more I lean into God’s Word and the more I pray for Jesus to guide me, the more I find myself in no man’s land; caught between two warring factions, destined to make enemies on both sides of the trenches.
I am a man with no country.
If you’re standing with me, don’t be surprised at where we find ourselves. If guys like Abraham, Moses, and Paul were culturally homeless, it makes sense that other God-followers might find themselves there too. In fact, be encouraged. God does His best work in the fringes and margins of society. The Church never grew so fast as when it was a clandestine organization that sought to turn society on its head. In her early years the Church was considered subversive, counter-cultural, and weird. In places like Iran, Pakistan, India and dozens of other countries it still is. And it’s in those places that God is doing amazing things! God loves people who are country-less because they are the ones who pursue the Kingdom. The ones who feel most homeless in this world have the most fertile soil for the Kingdom to be planted in their hearts. So I rejoice that I am a man with no country, because that means I am a citizen of God’s Kingdom!
But as a citizen I have responsibilities to love and serve my fellow man, regardless of creed, nationality or orientation. Kingdom mindedness leads me to mourn with the mourners, rejoice with the celebrants, and hold the hands of the broken. Being Kingdom-focused means I can no longer see my fellow man in pain and turn a blind eye. No, my citizenship requires me to help people out of the mess of their own lives, and sometimes that means I have to risk getting messy myself. If my King can leave heaven’s throne for Calvary’s cross, I can meet my neighbor where he is to show him the love of God.
To my friends who are country-less: Do not despair. Do not lose hope. Do not fear. Instead, be about the work of the Kingdom of God.