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God's Holy Nation

But you are ... a holy nation

1 Peter 2:9a

Are you proud to be Canadian? Do you cheer for your country? Are you patriotic? In recent years Canadian patriotism received a boost from a rather unexpected source: a beer commercial. Itís an image that has been burned into the minds of most Canadians: An empty stage dominated by a gigantic blowing Canadian flag. ďJoeĒ in his plaid shirt with his sixty second patriotic rant: ďCanada is the second-largest land mass, the first nation of hockey and the best part of North America. My name is Joe, and I am Canadian." It has become an advertising legend, and for some, the equivalent of a new national anthem.

Certainly Canada is a wonderful nation. Grand and rugged landscape from coast to coast. Sprawling prairies. Glorious Rockies. Vibrant reds and oranges of Fall colours. Brilliant white carpets of winter snow. This is a grand nation, glorious and free. A nation to sing about!

But this is also a nation to weep about. If itís true that many Canadian Joes put hockey and beer in the top three of things they get excited about, thatís hardly something to be proud of. Sad to say, Canada is also a very unholy nation. It is becoming a world leader in passing laws that overturn traditional family values. ďAlternativeĒ lifestyles are celebrated and rewarded. God and His Word no longer reign supreme.

Youíll be pleased to know that there is a better nation. No, itís not the United States. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us what this nation is: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God." Who is this ďholy nationĒ that the Bible talks about? Itís not a particular country. Itís not a particular race of people. Godís holy nation is His church, the true believers in Jesus Christ.

Not everyone is a citizen of Godís nation. In fact, the same chapter of the Bible also talks about the people who are not citizens of Godís nation. It describes them as "those who do not believe", those who "disobey the message." It says further that those who are not citizens of Godís nation the church and who reject the message about Christ: "They stumble, they fall." They stumble and fall in the biggest way possible Ė into eternal hell. But the citizens of Godís nation escape hell. They enter the eternal life of heaven.

How can you be included in this great nation? If you are born in Canada, you have a right to Canadian citizenship. But nobody is born with an automatic right to heavenly citizenship. Because of sin, nobody has what it takes to be regarded as a citizen of Godís nation. You canít expect to enter Godís nation by filling out all kinds of immigration forms and showing how much of a credit you would be to this new country if they accept you. Realistically, you can only expect a heavenly immigration officer to say: ďWe only accept perfect people, and you donít have what it takes.Ē

And yet Peter writes that the members of Christ church are Godís nation! How is it possible that sinners are included as citizens? Jesus Christ opens the way for entrance to Godís nation. He died on the cross to pay for all the bad things that disqualified Godís people from becoming part of His nation. He has all the credentials that make entrance into Godís heavenly nation possible. He gives them freely to everyone who believes in Him. He, as it were, fills in the forms, signs and seals them with the immigration stamp of His own blood.

In Christ, God makes His covenant with believers and their children, sets them apart from a sinful world on the road to hell, and makes them heavenly citizens on the road to heaven. Believing Canadians, Americans, Australians and Africans all become fellow-citizens of Godís holy nation. These fellow-citizens encourage each other as travellers on the road to eternal life by gathering together regularly as believers in Christís church. In local churches, they meet together, sing together, help each other, and together serve God their King.

While Canada is a great nation for which we can thank the Lord, a Canadian passport wonít do you any good when you die. More important than being a citizen of the nation of Canada, is to be a citizen of Godís holy nation. While the beer commercial starring Joe has helped Canadians get excited about our nation of Canada, the reality is that our nation is dying of spiritual thirst. Most Canadian citizens are ignoring the bread of life, the living water, Jesus Christ. More urgent than a message about beer, is the message about this bread of life, this living water, about Jesus Christ, who makes heavenly citizenship possible. A passport signed and sealed with His blood is valid beyond the grave, and allows heavenly citizens to enter eternal life.

Are you patriotic? Do you enjoy singing ďO CanadaĒ and ďGod Save the QueenĒ? Above all be thankful for Godís grace in allowing sinners to be part of His holy nation. Let the national anthems of Christís church never stop being sung: ďO Emmanuel!Ē ďGlory to God the King!Ē

Rev. Richard E. Pot

Published in Clarion, Vol. 52 No. 13

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