In his greeting to the church in Colossae, Paul writes, “To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae . . .” (Colossians 1:2a). In the Greek, he uses the same preposition to indicate that the believers in Colossae were both in Christ and in Colossae. The English translators use the word “at” in front of Colossae to make it sound less awkward.
As believers, we have a dual citizenship, we live in a country (or countries) but are also citizens of the Kingdom of God. We live in this world but we also understand that this world is not all there is.
This is part of the reason why Christians have been persecuted throughout the centuries. We cannot be trusted to be “all in” with regard to the current regime in place. We answer to a higher authority and earthly authorities sometimes take exception to this.
We should not be shocked that the intelligentsia of our day ridicule Christians. We make them feel uncomfortable because we do not automatically accept their diagnosis and prescription for solving the problems of the world around us.
Our dual citizenship is uncomfortable when the two kingdoms are in conflict. It would be so much more convenient to agree with the moral code of the surrounding culture. Perhaps there are a few who enjoy being antagonistic with their peers, but most of us like to “go along to get along.” But, this we cannot do if we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We have to make the choice to reject some aspects of the culture around us.
This does not mean that we have to verbalize every objection to what is being said and done around us. It does mean that we should prayerfully consider when it is appropriate to speak up. We are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Both truth and love must be operative when we confront any aspect of our culture.
In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul tells us that all of creation groans in anticipation of the time when the rightful king comes to make everything right (Romans 8:22). Until that time, we are both in Colossae and in Christ. We must learn to operate in the tension between the two kingdoms.
Our citizenship may be divided, but our loyalty cannot be. We must choose which kingdom gets the priority.