People are fed up with the way the country is being run and they want out. It is fascinating to watch as hundreds of thousands petition for their states to secede. I doubt it will happen, (except maybe Texas – Don’t Mess With Texas!) but it does give us a chance to talk about following Jesus.
What I see on the faces of so many people after this election is not hope, but despair. They long for a better country. They look to leaders and listen to their promises. They see through the lies and know that if things remain on this course there won’t be a country left. And they are trying to find the exits. They long for a new country where justice, peace, truth, and righteousness are the rule. Is there a place like that? That is what our founding fathers envisioned for this country, but that vision no longer guides us.
If you have felt this despair and realize you want a better place to live, you are not alone. In fact, this is a good and necessary step in order to follow Jesus. Eugene Peterson writes about this in his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. He says, “People submerged in a culture swarming with lies and malice feel as if they are drowning in it: they can trust nothing they hear, depend on no one they meet. Such dissatisfaction with the world as it is is preparation for traveling in the way of Christian discipleship. The dissatisfaction, coupled with a longing for peace and truth, can set us on a pilgrim path of wholeness in God.”
He goes on, “A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way. As long as we think the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquillity, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith. A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.” (pg.25).
By the look of the desire for secession, people have an appetite for the world of grace. I think of God calling Abraham out of Ur to a new land. I remember Moses leading people out of slavery in Egypt towards the promised land. David was on the run for many years waiting for his kingdom. And for hundreds of years the Israelities were looking for God’s Messiah to deliver them from bondage and establish them in the land of their forefathers as free men and women. It seems God’s people have always been looking for a new country.
“All of these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” – Hebrews 11:13-16.
Are you done thinking we can make heaven on earth? Are you ready to secede from the world’s ways and begin the pilgrim path of following Jesus? He calls us to a life of faith. When we follow Him, He tells us plainly, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Our goal is a better country – a heavenly one. Being a pilgrim is not easy. Jesus is very clear, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33), and he couldn’t be more right about that. “But take heart, I have overcome the world.”
When we follow Jesus we are in the world, but not of it. “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ “ (Phil 3:20). If you are longing for a better country, you won’t find it in secession. I encourage you to get your hiking boots on and follow Jesus more closely. Repentence is the first step.