I get an opportunity each week to sit and talk with wonderful people who wish to work on their English. They come from many different backgrounds and cultures, and the work they do ranges from creating new fuel sources from water to backbreaking physical labor. It has been my privilege to speak with folks from South Korea, Venezuela, Chile, Guatemala, and Mexico. I worry that my Southern drawl may impede their efforts to speak a new language correctly.
This week I had the opportunity to speak with a retired attorney who after 75 years as a citizen of one country, became a citizen of the United States. I was both impressed and curious that someone would be willing to take such a huge step. I asked him what his emotions were as he raised his right hand and as he put it, “Took the final step by speaking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America”. I wondered if there would be some regret, a little traitor-type guilt, or if he looked back at all that he was leaving behind. His response surprised me.
He told me how happy he was to be part of a country that accepted him for who he was. We spoke of how he is now just as much of an American as I am, and how we both have the same duties and responsibilities as citizens. He is a fully adopted son who is now a complete part of the American family.
As I was about to bust out singing the Star-Spangled Banner and chants of USA! USA! USA!, the Holy Spirit leaped inside me and Galatians 4:4-5 came to mind:
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
My friend had preached a sermon that he didn’t even know he was preaching. We are all born citizens of this world and no matter how long we are in it, we are all orphans looking for a place to belong. God’s “Oath of Allegiance” requires that we recognize that we have a sin problem and only Jesus can pay the enormous debt that our sin creates. We accept Jesus’s offer to pay the debt and in return, we pledge to follow Him. When we do this, God allows us to become citizens of His Kingdom. God being THE loving Father, sent His son Jesus so that we could be 100% fully adopted into the Kingdom of God.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:11-12
I left from our conversation both encouraged and challenged. I was encouraged with respect to being an American and the gift that it is. Even more so, I was reminded of what a gift it is to be a child of God. Jesus has done all I need to be a citizen of His Kingdom! I just need to receive it, and follow Him! My challenge is to take this Kingdom citizenship seriously, not take it for granted, and to invest in others so they too can be part of God’s Kingdom.
Will you join me?