Can I be a citizen of heaven and still be patriotic? I found myself challenged by this question by a friend (Rob) when I posted this exquisite and heavily meaningful picture on Facebook recently. The sculpture is crafted by French artist Frances Bruno Catalano and depicts a man who has had to sadly leave his home, loved ones etc for one reason or another. It was a poignant reminder to me and I very much related with this sculpture after having to make the painful decision in 1981, to leave my country of birth after living there for 26 years. We were (and still are despite our disbursement around the world,) a proud people. We stood for all we felt is right, civil and upstanding and fought for those values, even to the point of laying down our lives for them!
Having adopted my new country of citizenship, South Africa, I have, in my own passionate way, embraced all that being a Saffa (as we are endearingly known) means. Being an ardent sports lover and having played rugby between the ages of 13 – 32, I proudly follow and support the Springbok rugby team!
However our team recently suffered a humiliating historic loss to a heroic (but totally less-experienced and rated) Japanese team in the first round of Rugby World Cup 2015. I was stunned, shocked, irate, bemused, frustrated, devastated, along with millions of other Springbok fans. Our mighty “Boks” had succumbed to the “minnows” in our group who, in defeating us, won only their second world cup game, since they participated for the first time in 1991.
Negative, scathing comments flew thick and fast from South African ‘fans’, and the nation was in turmoil. There have been calls for ”Heads to roll” (yes that serious), and for sweeping changes from the coach, to numerous senior members of the team. Sadly, I too found myself in the middle of the tirade, making suggestions and having my whole presence affected by the result.
Then my friend’s question struck me…...Can I be a citizen of heaven and still be patriotic?
As a self confessed ”follower of Christ’, it is my absolute belief that my time on earth (and all of ours for that matter) is but a short journey, compared to eternity that is written of in what I believe is the Word of God, the Bible. As such, it is also my belief that my soul will live for eternity in the presence of Jesus, the one I choose to follow and obey. Now I know many of my friends will dispute this and have total freedom to believe what they will, but this is mine. So when Rob posed the question I went to my authority, which is the Bible, and found this scripture, being the words of Jesus;
“”Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me…I go prepare a place for you…I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am (Heaven), is where you will be also”.
Whilst I realise I’m living out this life on earth in a physical body (and with a spirit and soul) I do realise it is a temporary abode. I try to live my life with eternity in mind, hopefully gearing most of what I do and say, towards that. I certainly am a passionate person (ask my friends and family), but does my passion get the better of me? Whilst I believe its okay to be proud of my rugby team, family, country, etc. I really am of the belief that these will pass away, but eternity and my citizenship in Heaven, wont.
I trust this is not sounding super-spiritual, as its not meant to, but it really is my conviction and it does cause me to consider being careful of not being “overly patriotic”. I believe it can get in the way of God’s purposes for me as a citizen of Heaven found only through Christ’s death for me and what God’s role is for me in this limited time I have left here on earth.
What about you? Do you have one of these below?
If not…ask me how