I’ve just concluded a study of Peter’s first letter to the church. He wrote it from Rome to churches that were facing persecution in Turkey and southern Asia. I have Christian friends in those same places, and many of them are dealing with degrees of persecution because they are Christians. Their faith in Christ puts them at greater risk than people who profess faith in Islam or other religions in those regions. I was reading it as if Peter were writing to my friends today, and I found it contained so much encouragement and spiritual direction for them and for me.
I especially liked the way Paul closed his letter. Formerly he thought Christ only came to save Jewish people, but it was revealed to him early on that Jesus came for Jews first and then for the whole world. In his concluding remarks, Peter mentions Babylon as chosen by God, too. Most believe that this was a reference to Rome—the World government of his time. That Babylon was chosen can also be a reference to God having chosen the whole world, not just one nation. No matter your nationality, you are included in God’s great work of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ His Son.
Once you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, you are no longer identified by the country in which you are born, reside, or hold a passport. Your true country is heaven. Peter begins his letter by calling all Christians, those who are His elect exiles (1 Peter 1:1). We do not belong to a certain country of earth. We belong to heaven. Heaven is our true home, our true country.
Those of us who are Americans are faced with the task of electing leaders to guide our nation. As Christians, we are seeking to vote for those who will uphold Godly standards by honoring life, family, and freedom to worship, while at the same time respecting that God has given us a free will. Our goal is to do what we can to lead a quiet life that allows us to honor God and spread the Good News of His love for the whole world. We vote this way because we are: a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Our true country is heaven, so we live in exile here with the standards of heaven in our hearts and minds. As citizens of heaven, we should be shining light in the country in which we live. Our light shines through the way we show love in our countries that are so devoid of love. Our light shines in the way we share the mercy that we have received from God, which is freely given to all who come to Him.
I am proud to be an American. I take my responsibility to vote and contribute to my community as a responsibility that I am accountable to God to fulfill. I know that my country is chosen by God as Peter proclaimed about Rome. No country on this earth is my home. I am an alien and exile on earth. My true country is heaven. I am assigned to America as an Ambassador to those people God sends to me.