No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. – Matthew 6:24a
If you are an American and a believer in Jesus Christ, then you have pledged yourself in allegiance to two kingdoms: one earthly and one heavenly. We are born and live our lives inside earthly nations, we learn to speak earthly languages, and we engage earthly culture. We all have citizenship to an earthly nation, and we submit to the governing authorities of that nation. The standard for living as an American is sometimes called the “American way.” It is characterized by things like pride for the flag and the nation, freedom for people of all creeds and colors, and rugged individualism.
But our true citizenship lies upward. As Christians, our first allegiance is to the kingdom of heaven and its Sovereign, the triune God. Heaven also follows a standard. It’s called holiness. One day, we will spend eternity living out that standard in perfect fellowship with God and with each other.
So in a sense, today we are aliens. We are not of the world, just as Christ was not of the world (John 17:16). From an eternal perspective, we must remember that even though we serve a kingdom agenda, we are not absolved from actively engaging the earthly culture into which we’ve been sent. God doesn’t just rule in heaven; He rules both heaven AND earth. And the agenda of His kingdom is the visible demonstration of that comprehensive rule over every area of life. So our allegiance to God means that how we live on earth matters. We are not mere observers of a worldly culture; we are transformational agents within that culture.