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For King and Country

For King and Country

I got halfway through the news briefing before I had to shut my laptop, afraid to start crying in the middle of a café. There was, it said, perhaps a chance that Australian borders would open up to certain visa holders by mid-2021. If I was lucky, I might be able to hop, skip, and jump my way back over the pacific, hug my family close, and make it safely and legally back to the country I now also call home.

A lot of ifs, a lot of buts, a lot of maybes. Not a lot to rest my hope on.

But I could use a healthy dose of hope. I am home, but I want to go home.

This longing, as  my buddy C.S. Lewis has pointed out time and time again, gives me the gentlest glimpse at my soul’s deepest longing – I want to go home.

He describes this longing well through the voice of Jewel, a character in “The Last Battle”:

I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”

I miss America. And not just my friends and family, but our culture and food and hospitality and mountains. But as I’ve pondered recent events in our capital, events that continue a narrative of broken people sinning against each other, starting from Cain and Abel and carrying onward, I have to ask myself where my allegiance lies?

I love America, deeply, but if I’m laying it all down for king and country, who is my king, and where is my country?

I’ve wrestled long and hard with that question. The answer is simple – my King is Christ, my country His Kingdom. But that answer is hard too.

Matthew 5 lays out our citizenship for us:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for
 so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Meek? Merciful? Pure in heart?

Peacemakers?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness? And not self-righteousness, but for justice and truth and integrity?

What place do I have in a kingdom like that? And yet, this is the kingdom we’re called to. Wherever we live, whatever temporary allegiance we pledge to the country we call home, our ultimate allegiance is to Christ.

I’m not the first or wisest person to ask question of our Christian Nationalism, the unhelpful conflation of our kingdom identities, but I want to enter into the fray to pose a simple question:

When your heart longs for home, what home are you truly longing for?

And if you’re living for the Kingdom, are you seeking mercy, peace, justice?

I pray that as we reflect on our citizenship call, coming from Christ in Matthew 5, we will heed his command in Matthew 6: seek first the Kingdom of God.

Jessica Fields

Jessica Fields is a coffee-drinking, world-traveling, soon-to-be graduate student. She grew up in Winston-Salem, went to college in Chapel Hill, and will be living in Brisbane, Australia for the foreseeable future. She is passionate about Jesus and the radically transformative power of the Gospel. She also loves baking and cozy afternoons, so consider yourself invited over for baked goods, coffee, and chats about faith and life!

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