It’s time Christians start burning their passports. Too many of us have forgotten what this thing is all about. We are not citizens first of Canada, of the United States, of the E.U, or of any other worldly nation. We are citizens of a Kingdom that is not of this earth; THAT is where our primary loyalty must lie. I can't think of a better way to affirm that than collectively burning our passports.
Come to think of it, Ash Wednesday is coming up, why not then? I think that would be tremendously appropriate. Burn Your Passport Day 2017 will be Wednesday March 1st 2017.
If this seems drastic that’s because it is. People seem to think that their Christian duty and their Patriotic duty are the same thing. So let me back up a little and explain how I got to this extreme.
Recently, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that a florist was in violation of the State’s antidiscrimination law by refusing to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding. An interesting fact of this case is that the gay men in question had been, up until then, fairly regular customers. That's a point that will be important later on.
Before I continue, let me rapid fire a few things about this particular type of case so that you understand where I'm coming from.
I believe that those same guidelines and legal rights ought to apply to everyone in a civil society, regardless of religion or worldview. However, in this case, the florist is a professing Christian. Now it's not about her rights, it's about the Gospel and her witness.
It has long been the position of professing Christian florists, wedding photographers, and bakers that in these cases their rights are being infringed upon when they are forced to provide services for a gay wedding. They insist that if they are forced to provide these services then they are participating and complicit in the sin. This is a ludicrous line of reasoning.
This florist claimed that until the wedding, this man was a regular customer. Wouldn't this florist have been "participating" in the relationship long before the wedding? Not to to be crass but if the objection to homosexuality comes down to sex and plumbing, wouldn't the flowers have contributed to that before? Wouldn't they have, you know, “helped”?
Additionally, why is it that Christians seem to want to park on this particular sin so much? After all, it's not even a commandment! Where's the unmitigated outrage about working on the Sabbath, why is idolatry (that is, ascribing worth to anything more than you ascribe to the God of the Bible) not only legal but downright enshrined in our capitalistic and consumerist culture? Would these same florists refuse to provide flowers for a second marriage after a divorce not stemming from adultery? What about selling flowers if they know a customer to be an adulterer? Christian florists should just close for a week around Valentine’s day in order to avoid “participating” in all of that pre-marital sex.
Hearing of this story, and the ensuing backlash reminded me of Jeremiah 29, no not that verse that we see all over Instagram and living rooms. Jeremiah 29:11 isn’t really about you or your life at all. It’s a national promise to the Nation of Israel which was in exile in Babylon at the time. The part of Jeremiah 29 this reminds me of this happens earlier in the chapter:
"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." Jeremiah 29:4-7 ESV
This passage is an instruction, for the people of Israel, to continue with their lives and live them while they are in exile. “Live well!” The prophet says. Plant gardens and raise families! Put down roots because you’re not going anywhere for a while. Live well and pray to the Lord on behalf of your (unbelieving) new home, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare. Basically, “Pray for your adoptive country, when it does well, you will do well, do this until I bring you back to the promised land.” Philippians 3 makes the case again: “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,”. Our citizenship in in heaven, we're just (to borrow Canadian immigration language) Permanent Residents here.
The point is clear. Our role as believers is to live our own lives faithfully, preach the good news of Jesus to those around us, and otherwise let them live their lives. It does no service to Christ or the gospel to conform people or a society to godly behaviour without the change that comes from repentance and the Gospel.
Obviously, I don't really want anyone to go around burning their passports. They're good and valuable tools, especially for those of us in the West. We do, however, need to remember that our primary citizenship is not on this earth, and THOSE passports are on order.
Christian brewers aren't participating in alcoholism if their customers drink too much.
Christian chefs aren't participating in gluttony when they feed gluttons.
Christian car designers aren't participating in idolatry when they design a car that people worship.
Christian bakers and florists don't participate in homosexuality by baking cakes and arranging flowers.
So please, bake the cakes, sell the flowers, and stop making Jesus look like a petty kid because you think this sin is somehow worse than idolatry.
As a Biblical conservative, a cultural Liberal, a husband, a dad, and a pastor, I want to see the church act differently in the world. My big passion in ministry is to see how believers can bring the Gospel into the world around them while pursuing the lost art of winsomeness. It is what fuels me and drives me to write. Engaging culture with the truth of the Gospel in a way that is winsome, wise, and as Colossians 4:6 directs us: “seasoned with salt.” It’s my hope that what I say here helps you not only in your own faith, but helps you share it more effectively and fruitfully.
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