Len Browning: Good citizenship – a Biblical imperative
May 27, 2018
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.
— Titus 3:1
The Apostle Paul's words to his "son in the faith," Titus, reminds me of a culture, an intentional community environment that was created and instilled in me while growing up in public school here in Craig.
Citizenship was taught and expected. Today, citizenship has been relegated to the connection one has with the jurisdiction in which one resides or has been born into — and especially the rights and privileges thereunto.
I am the fortunate benefactor — due to my birth in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA — of being a citizen of the United States of America. I have resided in (for more than six months) the city of Craig in Moffat County in the State of Colorado – I am a citizen of each.
Citizenship is not only membership in a community, it is also "the quality of an individual's response to membership" in any community.
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What I was taught was the expectation of responsibility to respect and obey authority and relate to all others in a kind and cooperative way. Citizenship was taught in this light; at home, at school, at work and at play.
The aforementioned Bible passage, written in the first century BCE, implores "them" — that is Christ-followers — to honor and obey the government. We may find it a bit difficult in our experience today to "obey government," but is in no way reasonably compared to the plight of those first-century Christians living on the island of Crete that Paul addresses through his admonitions to Titus.
Segregation, disenfranchisement and injustice were practiced without possibility of remedy regularly by the governments under which these Christians were living, and still, they were instructed to submit to and obey them.
Our predicament is so much less problematic.
Not only does Paul stretch us in terms of our response to our governing authorities, he goes on to include the other aspect of citizenship — the quality of our response to membership in a community. What I was taught in school is what Paul is commanding to Christ's followers: Respect and obey authority, and relate to all others in a kind and cooperative way.
As we observed Memorial Day Monday, will elebrate Independence Day on the Fourth of July and begin the festivity and parade season during our short summer here, let us practice what I was taught in school and we are commanded in scripture: Respect our heritage and government, serve our fellow man and get along with everyone.
Stand and honor the flag, as well as our public servants, especially those currently enlisted personnel and veterans, as well as firefighters, first responders and law enforcement personnel.
Be patient and kind — let an elderly person go ahead of you in a line, give up your seat for someone out of respect. Be kind to your neighbor and patient with everyone.
Listen when someone is speaking, and turn your device off and engage others.
Pastor Len Browning serves as the lead pastor at The Journey at First Baptist in Craig. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.