Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe . . . (Hebrews 12:28)
On the November 2, 1852, my great-great-grandfather, Johann Friedrich Boberg, appeared in Knox County, Indiana, Circuit Court to sign a “Declaration of Intention” to become a citizen of the United States of America. In that declaration, Johann renounced his allegiance to Prince Leopold of Lippe in what was then The Kingdom of Prussia, and swore his allegiance to the United States of America. That declaration was five years and one day after Johann arrived in the port of New Orleans – the minimum residency requirement for citizenship. Since the five-year anniversary was on a Sunday, he had to wait until Monday morning to apply. Johann Friedrich Boberg was eager to become a U.S. citizen!
Christians have pledged their allegiance to Jesus Christ as Lord and King. That allegiance takes precedence over any and all other allegiances. Christians, however, have a sort of dual citizenship. We are in this world – as to our physical existence – but not of this world as to our spiritual, eternal life. This world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31), decaying from within because of its sinfulness and rebellion against God, but “whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
My physical citizenship in this world is limited in both its nature and duration. As to its nature, my physical citizenship is limited to the realm God has assigned to human government, which has no authority over my relationship to God. The duration of my citizenship in this world is also limited. First, it is limited by my earthly lifespan. It may also be limited by the very existence of the nation in which I live! For example, the Kingdom of Prussia that had been Johann Friedrich’s home was dissolved in 1918, following the devastation of the First World War. Everything in this world is tentative and fragile. And God has promised that He will “shake” this world system, and then remove that which was shaken:
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:26-29)
God shook the world at Mt. Sinai when He gave His Law to the nation Israel. He shook both heaven and earth in the death and resurrection of Christ. And the writer of Hebrews says there is another “shaking” coming! When God shakes the heavens and the earth the next time, He will also remove what He has been shaken.
I’m thankful that by God’s grace, I have citizenship in an eternal kingdom! The most important citizenship a person can have is in the Kingdom of God. And we can have that citizenship through repentance from our sins and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We must renounce all allegiance to the prince of this world, and declare our total spiritual allegiance to Christ.
Johann Friedrich Boberg couldn’t wait to cast off the past and declare his allegiance to a new country. How much more eager should we be in these dark, sinful, violent times to renounce allegiance to this sinful world and declare our allegiance to God through Jesus Christ!
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken . . .