“Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the king as the supreme authority, or to governors as those who have been sent by him,” says Peter in his first epistle.
Only a few verses earlier, Peter addressed the scattered children of God as “aliens and temporary residents in the world.”
The fact is, we Christians are dual citizens. By birth we are all citizens of some earthly nation. And by faith in Christ we are citizens of an eternal kingdom.
As baptized children of God, you and I live out our days in what Luther called “the two kingdoms.” Both kingdoms are established by God. Both kingdoms serve different purposes. Both kingdoms are given different tools. Neither kingdom fares well when it borrows the tools of the other. Jesus Himself outlines our dual citizenship in His famous saying: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
There are some things that we cannot give to Caesar. There are some things that belong only to God – such as our ultimate faith, love and our very selves. We are not our own. We were bought at the price of our Savior’s precious blood so that, as Luther said, we “should be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom.”
Our Lutheran Augsburg Confession says: “The power of the Church and the civil power must not be confounded.” As Christians in a free society, we thank God for our liberty which allows the word of God to be freely preached and believed. Still, as Christians who believe what the Bible says about original sin, we know that every form of government can go bad. A monarchy is only as good as the current king on the throne. A nation governed by its electorate is only as good as the people who go to the polls.
Paul once said to the Philippians: “Our citizenship is in heaven.” We dual citizens serve our own beloved land best by serving Christ first in our separate lives. For neither Caesar’s sword nor Caesar’s laws shall ever do what only the Spirit’s sword – Christ’s gospel – can do, create citizens, one at a time, of a kingdom that shall never end.