How Christians Should View, and Respond to, These Events
We have seen how white South Africans should view all these things, and how they should respond. Now lastly, the question that needs answering is: how should Christians view these things, and respond to them?
For although each and every true Christian is a citizen of a particular country, and a member of a particular nation, not all people within a nation are true Christians! Although they may be churchgoers, and call themselves Christians, the majority, in fact, are not. This is true of the English and Afrikaans South African nations as well. One is not a Christian because one is white. True Christians are a minority within these nations, as they are in all others.
And believers, the Lord’s elect, are citizens of two countries. Paul said of himself that he was a Jew of Tarsus, a citizen of that city (Acts 21:39); and he could appeal to his Roman citizenship at times, when necessary (Acts 22:25-27), but at the same time he and all believers confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb. 11:13), seeking a heavenly country and a heavenly city, looking for a city built by God Himself (Heb. 11:10,14-16). Christians are like people who reside in a country as long-term residents: their passports say they have citizenship in another country, but for the time being they are living and working in a different one. The Christian’s true citizenship is in heaven, but for the time being he resides in an earthly country. And while we are in this earthly country, we have certain attachments to it. We care for it, we have a history here, its fortunes are our fortunes, its troubles our troubles. In addition, as believers we seek always to do what good we can to our fellow men, even though they are not believers. This is our calling.
So then, although we are citizens of heaven and just strangers and pilgrims here on this earth, we nevertheless feel much for the people of this earth, and for the land where we were born, grew up, and reside. All this is perfectly natural, for we have real, and often strong, ties to it.
But through it all, we must never lose sight of the fact that we are still strangers and pilgrims! Like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we seek a country, we desire that better, heavenly country, whose builder and maker is God. Ultimately this earth, and this entire universe, are going to be burned up by the divine will and judgment (2 Pet. 3:10-13). When that day comes, all statues, monuments, cities, will melt with fervent heat, and be gone. Only heaven will remain. And therefore, even though it is right for us to do what we can to prevent wicked men from having their way in the countries in which we reside, and to do what we can to influence society for good; and even though it is natural for us to feel deep sadness as we watch all that we once knew being destroyed; yet we must always remember that we are strangers and pilgrims in this earth, and that heaven is our true and glorious home!
The balance is not an easy one to strike. Some go too far in one direction, becoming completely absorbed in the things of this world and thinking this is the Church’s task in the world. This is wrong. But others go too far in the other direction, thinking that Christians should live like hermits in this world, having nothing to do in the world at all. Both are extremes to be avoided. Christians are most certainly to separate completely and utterly from all that is sinful, and from all false religion; but while we live in this world, we still can do what we can to preserve what is good, for this makes for a better life for us, and others, as we pass through it.
Let all true believers, then, be the very best citizens of the country in which they reside, praying for the rulers, seeking to live a quiet and peaceable life (1 Tim. 2:1,2), doing what good we can, defending the right and exposing the evil; but always and above all, viewing ourselves as strangers and pilgrims in this world, just passing through on the way to our heavenly home.
Keeping this proper perspective will greatly aid us in being able to handle the sorrows, trials and troubles of this life.
Amidst ten thousand dangers
Which everywhere abound,
The pilgrims and the strangers
Alone secure are found;
For on their Lord they’re waiting,
They seek him night and day;
His aid they’re supplicating
In his appointed way. (the hymn Amidst ten thousand dangers)
History is important; good history should be memorialised; the destruction of historical monuments to men who did much good should be lamented, even legitimately resisted; but the true Christian must always remember that the greatest monument he should desire is that he himself will be found, on that last day,
A monument of grace,
A sinner saved by blood. (the hymn Indulgent God, how kind are all thy ways to me)
For on the last great day, sovereign grace’s monuments will be the only ones standing; and will stand for all eternity.
Shaun Willcock is a minister, researcher and author. He runs Bible Based Ministries. For other articles (which may be downloaded and printed), as well as details about his books, audio messages, pamphlets, etc., please visit the Bible Based Ministries website; or write to the address below. If you would like to be on Bible Based Ministries’ email list, to receive all future articles, please send your details.