Reading the News as a Christian

There have been numerous instances when I have told Christians that I want to be a journalist and they have responded with, “The news needs more Christians like you.” I have always felt torn by this statement. One part of me wants to defend the news and the reporters who have inspired me to go into the journalism industry, while the other part of me readily agrees that being a Christian would enable me to report with a different perspective, relying on my God-given morals and outlook. I know I am not the only Christian battling between balancing their identity as a believer and their consumption of the news industry.

There seems to be a fine line between Christians and the media. I do admit that almost everyone walks along a fine line of doubt when it comes to the news, Christian or not. However, while I understand the uncertainty due to the flood of biased news, it also saddens me. We are fortunate to have news to educate, inform, and inspire us. The First Amendment did not just give us freedom of religion, but also freedom of the press. We live in a country where we have a news industry that can print what it wants to print and inform the public how it sees fit. So, here’s the question: how do we, as Christians, read and respond to the press?

Just Because It Doesn’t Support Your Views, Doesn’t Mean It’s False

Christian culture, and the so-called views that come with it, either good or bad, seeps beyond church walls and into every aspect of our lives. It has divided Christian brothers and sisters into different political parties. It has dictated which news outlets are deemed reliable and which ones are condemned as fake news. It has led to reposting verified news articles to support a Christian belief, while on the other hand it has misconstrued truth as a weapon and used it to deceive others by posting news on social media that is false just to support a belief. Many people in the world are guilty of creating this division and mask of uncertainty when it comes to news because we all want so desperately for our views to be the views that are true. It’s easy to say “fake news” when an article does not align with our worldview or political party or to spread fake news when it supports our opinions. Still, as Christians, we need to hold ourselves accountable and take a moment before we scream “that’s fake news” or put out fake news because we serve a God who is True (1 Jn. 5:20).

We have a responsibility as Christians to base everything we do on the truth found in Scripture, not on lies suffocating our society today. I read at least four news sources a day. I follow more news outlets on Instagram. I listen to news podcasts and have watched 60 Minutes religiously since I was five. The more you take in, the more you can compare and contrast, weeding out what is incorrect and finding the boiled down, unbiased facts. There are numerous news outlets that are pretty much dead in the center as well such as AP News or Reuters. Go to these unbiased outlets to fact-check when something controversial is happening that shows a large divide between political parties. There are incredible nonprofit news platforms that investigate world or local concerns that are not covered by mainstream news outlets. Remember that when an article or social media post does not align with your personal views, it does not necessarily mean that it is untrue. Or even if it does align with your personal views, it may be false. Remember it’s also your responsibility to assess if something is true or not.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8

News Can Lead to Understanding, Not Division

If anything, read news that opposes your views and biases, not just supports them. Challenge yourself. Educate yourself. Read news from Christian outlets, like The Gospel Coalition, and read mainstream news outlets. If you are a Democrat, read a right-leaning newspaper. If you are a Republican, read a left-leaning newspaper. Find a newspaper that’s in the middle of the two political parties. Read about different church denominations. Read about Protestants and read about Catholics. Read about places far away from where you live and read about cultures vastly different from your own.

Remember that just because you believe something doesn’t mean that everybody does. Diversify what you read so you can understand these different perspectives and opinions. We cannot love others well if we do not understand them, especially if we do not take the time nor make an intentional effort to understand them. Remember that differences can be united by God’s love. We are all different, but we as Christians are all part of God’s family as brothers and sisters. Our different perspectives and choices display how God created each one of us as unique, but our identities as God’s children reminds us that we are all His, creating a common ground.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. – Proverbs 18:2

For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility…for through him we both have access in one spirit to the Father. – Ephesians 2:14,18

God’s Word is the True Word

At the end of the day, when we are questioning what is true or false, what is biased or unbiased, or what supports Christianity or goes against it, we must remember this: God’s Word is the only True Word. When we are uncertain, we must use our foundation in God’s Word to answer these doubts and questions. Reading an article may answer our questions about what happened around the world today, but reading God’s Word gives us a foundation in Truth and in His Gospel.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32

When we consume articles everyday that focus on racism or war or inequality or poverty, we must go to the Bible to have a foundation of God’s perspective on these different topics to form an informed opinion. Human perspectives on right and wrong and good and evil are constantly changing as we search through the weeds for truth. Through God’s Word, we get to know His character, which will never change and is not swayed by the opinions of men. News gives us a worldly knowledge, but the Bible gives us a heavenly, eternal knowledge (2 Peter 1:19-21).

Praying Together During Inauguration Week

We all thought 2021 would hold promise for better days after a year marked by fear and aggression, but it has already failed to be the “hope” for which the world longs. After a couple of jaw-dropping weeks, Inauguration Day is upon us. Sadly, the 2020 election left even Christians, our families, and our churches more divided than ever before. Even for those whose preferred candidate won, many Christians can look back and acknowledge great distraction and misplaced loyalty. Going forward, let us turn away from our sin that causes us to place winning over loving our brothers and sisters. One thing I am noticing is that watching or reading news updates makes me long for Heaven even more, so I know that the current political climate opens an opportunity to share the real hope of Christ. In order to display our hope in Jesus, and not the false hope in this world, let us pray together and allow God to soften and reset our hardened hearts with reminders of His authority, love, and trustworthiness.

Scripture holds counsel for every situation! The instructions for believers in Ephesians 6:10-18 remind us 1) who our enemy is, 2) where our strength lies, and 3) why prayer is essential to church unity.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesian 6:10-18

Father, it seems your people can never see eye to eye on issues in the public sphere. Help us unite around what is most important and true– your name and your mighty power. My flesh desires to be right and to win, and even my best intentions to stand up for righteousness and condemn evil can be twisted, resulting in seeing my brothers and sisters as enemies or less-than-human. Condemnation, division, and violence is not what you want, but it fits perfectly into “the devil’s schemes.” I plead that we would keep our eyes on the real battle, which is not of this world.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:13-17

You, Lord Jesus, provide all I need to engage in the spiritual battle happening around me. You know the pain and evil that this world holds. You lived here and felt every emotion and challenge I feel, yet you responded without sin. Instill in me your Word and help me stay tethered to it. You have declared me righteous through your Son’s blood. Teach me to daily accept your gift of salvation and live in freedom rather than condemnation. Fit me for opportunities to serve, love, and tell of your goodness, moved by the urgency of your gospel. Secure my faith, may it become the shield in which I trust rather than the false refuge of a political party or social movement. Help me identify flaming arrows disguised as distractions. With the helmet of salvation mark me as uniquely yours because at the moment you saved me, I was born again into your family (2 Corinthians 5:17). Teach me how to use the sword of the Spirit by revealing to me specific pieces of Scripture that contradict what the world is telling me.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Ephesians 6:18

Keep me close to you in prayer. Motivate me to establish rhythms of prayer that replace rhythms of turning to social media for answers. In you I find true peace, perspective, and purpose. Unify the Church around what matters most: our faith in you. Then move us to pray and work on behalf of brothers and sisters. Keep me alert not only to the needs of people within my country, but especially brothers and sisters around the world, who you know are suffering persecution. Thank you for softening my heart towards others through your love, even those with whom I disagree. May I have a selfless posture of prayer rather than a defensive stance of pride.

When the fallen world acts, well, fallen, we as Christians can step into the raging unseen battle through prayer. Only a relationship with Christ can transform us into people who are overflowing with hope and respect for others. The stark contrast between popular behavior and the example of Jesus, offers an opportunity for believers to stand out, so let us start with prayer and practice following Christ’s radical example during this inauguration week.

How the Noahic Covenant Informs Our Voting

In our hyper-political culture, the calls to vote for public officials have never been louder and ubiquitous. Every time you get on Facebook or Instagram, you are given the option to register to vote. Athletes and celebrities have been encouraging us to vote. Clothing brands and alcohol beverage commercials implore us to vote. However, the act of voting is not virtuous in and of itself. In fact, it is unwise to vote if you are uneducated about the issues at hand. The fact that many people are uneducated is the reason why the United States is not a democracy; it is a republic. Our style of government restrains the “tyranny of the majority.” Despite this, our nation’s voters must not just participate by voting, but also know how to vote. Thankfully, God does not leave us in the dark in how we ought to vote. The Noahic Covenant gives us an objective standard that we can use to know whether or not a candidate is a viable option for public office.

The Nature of the Noahic Covenant and Place in Redemptive History

When Adam plunged the whole world into sin, God promised that offspring of the woman would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). This is the first announcement of the gospel that Jesus Christ will come and save His people from their sins and defeat Satan and all of his works. However, even in that first announcement of the gospel, God also says to the serpent that he “will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring…” Ever since then, there has been a war between Satan and Christ at play in human thoughts and actions. Due to Adam’s sin, we are born as offspring of Satan (Ephesians 2:1-3).

However, God rescues sinners and makes them His own as He did to Adam, Eve, and Abel (Genesis 4:4). This ongoing Satanic war was first evident in the brutal murder of Abel by his brother Cain after God accepted Abel’s offering but not Cain’s.. Wickedness increased so much on the earth that God decided that He would “blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land” (Genesis 6:7) by a worldwide flood. However, since God is true to His promise to bring forth Christ, He kept a remnant for Himself: Noah and his family (Genesis 6:8). After the flood subsided, God established the Noahic covenant.

God promised that “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). Disruptions in human life and natural events will continue to occur “while the earth remains”, but God has promised to withhold His wrath from the earth, by not bringing about another flood or worldwide natural disaster. The Noahic Covenant is temporary because this world is temporary. The Noahic Covenant will end when Christ comes again to establish a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1).

God calls Noah and his sons to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). Noah and his sons do indeed have children, but those children are born as offspring of Satan because of innate sin that is bent towards evil and wickedness. However, God establishes a system of justice to counteract the wickedness of the world. God says to Noah, “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of the man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6). 

God expects mankind to punish those who commit acts of violence. In this way, God is able to restrain the offspring of Satan from persecuting the offspring of the woman. Joseph and Mary fled from an unjust king who wanted to kill every child under two years old to Egypt where a more just system of governance was in place (Matthew 2:13-15). God made this covenant with the whole world, both unbelievers and believers. God says to Noah, “I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (Genesis 9:15-16). 

The rainbow is the visible sign of promise to the whole world that God will not bring another worldwide flood-judgment. This covenant is a promise that God will show common grace to both believers and unbelievers that He will protect them in justice and provide for their needs (Matthew 5:45). Even Cain was a beneficiary of God’s common grace prior to the covenant when God promised that “vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold” (proportionate justice) (Genesis 4:15).

To summarize, the Noahic Covenant is a common grace covenant wherein God promises to the whole world to uphold the natural and social order. God does this by restraining evil through human governments and withholding His wrath until all of His promises are fulfilled in Christ. This covenant created an ordered “playing field” for God’s plan of redemption to unfold. But how does this covenant affect the way 21st century Americans vote? I will argue that since the Noahic Covenant established a system of governance to restrain evil, and since Americans play a role in governance by electing representatives for us to be in our country’s government, then the Noahic Covenant gives an objective way to measure the viability of candidates who run for public office. The law given in this common grace covenant must be respected by all mankind’s governments

Can We Vote for Unbelievers?

Since the Noahic Covenant is made with the whole world, then we should expect unbelievers to be involved in civil society’s pursuit of justice and peace. While Christians should certainly be mindful of the sin nature of any candidate (including Christian ones), we should never deny our vote to a candidate simply because they do not believe in Christ. Unbelievers, though fallen in sin, still have the law of God written on their hearts (Romans 2:15). Unbelievers, because of God’s common grace (Genesis 20:6), can understand the moral order of the world and act in accordance with it (though not in a way that could please God). Consider the pagan Abimelech in Genesis 20. Abraham lies to Abimelech by saying Sarah is his sister when she actually is his wife. His desire to marry her was extinguished when God appeared to Abimelech in a dream and told him that she is already a man’s wife.. He is repulsed by the idea of almost committing adultery and even rebukes Abraham for his sin of lying (Genesis 20:19).

Moreover, Abraham even makes a political treaty with Abimelech in which they and their servants agree to not steal and oppress one another (Genesis 21:22-24). Abraham was not compromising with the world, but acting wisely as he, a member of God’s redemptive kingdom, lives with unbelievers in God’s common kingdom. It is not wrong to vote for an unbeliever nor is it “syncretistic” to be a member of a political party. What matters is not whether the candidate qualifies for eldership at your church, but whether his or her policies will promote peace and justice in our society.

Religious Liberty

Christians should only vote for candidates who are unconditionally for religious liberty—for every religion. This is because the Noahic Covenant was made with the whole world specifically so that the offspring of Satan would be restrained from persecuting the offspring of the woman. The church grows exponentially when our government officials leave us alone to worship and practice what the Bible teaches. Paul even calls us to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2). Persecution in the form of violence or economic oppression breaks the sixth and eighth commandments. According to the Noahic Covenant, persecutors of the church ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law by the government.

Christianity is not the only religion that should be protected; the religions of Satan ought to be protected, too. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, etc. should not be persecuted for their respective religions. The Noahic Covenant is designed to protect all image bearers from injustice as both believers and unbelievers live in the common kingdom. Moreover, the common kingdom is not theocratic Israel. We are not to put to death unbelievers since the Mosaic covenant was made with a specific ethnic people in a specific geographic location with specific blessings and curses. The Noahic Covenant offers no blessings for obedience or curses for disobedience. It is simply in place for the sake of preservation. This covenant protects unbelievers from the wrath of God prior to the return of Christ. Because of this covenant, we are able to love our unbelieving neighbors and preach the gospel so that they can be with us in the theocratic reign of Christ in the new heaven and new earth.

Equal Treatment and Proportionate Justice

Christians should vote for candidates who are for treating image bearers equally under the law and metes out proportionate justice. God tells us that He requires a reckoning for the act of murder. Justice for murder, in God’s law, means that the murderer should be rendered the death penalty. While Genesis 9:6 can refer more broadly to the general principle of proportionate justice, it is a good indicator that any candidate who thinks the death penalty is immoral does not know what justice is. The candidates we vote for ought to create laws that are in accord to God’s law revealed in nature (natural law). God not only reveals His law in Scripture, but also in nature. Moral order is woven into the very fabric of creation and is equally observable by both believers and unbelievers.

Since this covenant values the lives of all image bearers equally, any law that values human lives less than others because of their ethnicity is unjust. We should vote for candidates who will pursue justice for all races. There are candidates who push for “racial justice” or “social justice” that also believe it’s acceptable to murder the most vulnberable of our population: the unborn. Those who are for abortion and claim to be seeking justice should not be listened to in our society’s discussion about racism.

Pro-Life and Pro-Traditional Family

The Noahic Covenant was made to preserve life and for families to reproduce. As indicated above, voting for any pro-abortion candidate is not option for Christians—for anyone! This is because the right to life is the basis of all other rights. Moreover, Christians should not consider candidates who promote and plan to pass LGBTQ+ legislation. Why? Andrew T. Walker writes, “Prioritizing the natural family as the main focus of our political order would do more to promote flourishing, end inequality, and repair our broken foundations than anything else on the table. Why? The family is the source of political order.” One of the reasons why American society is crumbling is because we don’t have a standard for sexual ethics. But if our standard is how God designed sexuality to be lived out, then our society will flourish. Living in accord with nature (how God designed the world to work), typically results in prosperity (Proverbs 8:14-21).

Voting is Temporary

Christians should be interested and engaged in politics. This should be so because the state of peace and justice in society depends upon the governance of our leaders. However, since the Noahic Covenant is temporary, elections are too. We need to remember that we are not primarily citizens of the United States, but citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20-21). Our identity is not in this age and whether or not the candidates we vote for win. Our identity is in the age to come. The Lord Jesus is the last Adam who has redeemed from the first Adam’s sin and the world he plunged into sin (Romans 5:16, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45). There will be a day where there will be perfect peace and perfect justice because Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead and raise up our dead bodies in glorified, resurrected life forevermore (Revelation 21:1-4).

Why Should I Vote?

Episode 9 of the Dual Citizen features a conversation with Dr. Bruce Ashford, a very special author, professor, and expert in how our spiritual identity impacts the way we engage culture. In his book Letters to an American Christian, Dr. Ashford addresses “the good of politics,” which he argues can be achieved through politics holding its proper place in the created world along with other spheres of culture such as education, family, and art. Government and politics exist to achieve justice for those under a government’s purview. Each sphere has a unique reason for existing, each sphere has a circumference, or limits, and each part of culture is corrupted by sin, twisted and misdirected. But because of Christ’s redemption, we as believers can enter into those spheres and honor Him. We can do this by asking a set of three questions: What is God’s creational design for this sphere? How has this sphere been twisted by sin? As a believer, how can I redirect this part of culture for good?

Politics may appear to be the most filthy of all the spheres of culture, but there is still the opportunity for good if we redirect the purpose of politics toward its center– achieving justice by involving the populus in decision making rather than oppressive tyranny. How can we practically achieve this? You may feel powerless to influence or “redirect” politics, but you do have power in the form of your vote. Voting, from a bird’s eye view, is one way in which your interests and preferences are represented. It is a way to provide your input about the reach that the political sphere should have over other areas of life such as family, education, health, and faith. This spatial analogy is more theoretical than concrete, but it can be a helpful foundation for understanding politics at a deeper level than what one can see on Twitter.

Because we as Christians have experienced redemption, equity, mercy, righteousness and justice in the Kingdom of God, we have a responsibility to share our hope and beliefs in the sector where humans are trying to accomplish these ideals but are failing because sin has twisted our systems. Christians cannot build perfect institutions either, but we have a unique understanding of the source of justice, order, and goodness because of our experience in the Kingdom of God. Leaders who know God can lead our country towards that which is true, just, and good and away habits that are corrupt, tyrannical, and irresponsible.

Believers should vote because if Christians step out of the political sphere, we decide to refrain from bearing witness in a good, created part of culture. John 20:21 relays a message from Jesus during his final moments on earth: “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” We will face persecution in many forms, but Christians are called to stand in every sphere of creation as an arrow pointing to the Creator.

Every human institution is broken, but God’s glory can be displayed through the way we pursue justice and righteousness. Do not be disarmed by the constant crossfire of opinions, but use your voice to fight for things that reflect God’s character, defend the defenseless, and preserve religious freedom while continuing to seek the everlasting Kingdom first. As you take next steps, check out the Dual Citizen’s step-by step voting guide, available here to help you find resources for making big decisions on your ballot.

Whole-Life Pro-Life

Herbie Newell is a graduate of Samford University and has served for eleven years as the Director of Lifeline Children’s Services, which is a global and domestic adoption agency.  In January of 2020, he released Image Bearers: Shifting from Pro-Birth to Pro-Life, which presents a challenge to the Church and a call-to-care for people of all ages, races, and circumstances.  

Most of the time we hear the terms pro-life and pro-choice associated with political candidates and parties.  It is something that determines how a lot of evangelicals vote, but this is a much more vast and deep and urgent issue than I personally, and we as a culture treat it. As a Christian, I believe life begins in the womb and is indescribably valuable. When I hear many pro-choice speakers arguing that because of the broken adoption and foster care centers, disaster would strike if abortion was outlawed, I can’t help but see where the church has failed. These are valid thoughts, and I can see where the Church has been very outspoken about being pro-birth but has failed to care for the parents in these very difficult situations.

To prove the babies for whom we are fighting will be loved if the mom chooses life, we need to care for orphans well, care for people with special needs, and care for foster children and families. This is where Lifeline steps in. Lifeline sets an example of holistic support for life through shepherding families through adoption, while also providing resources for those in the foster care system and support for parents who would like to regain custody of their children.  

James 1:27 says, 

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

As Christians, we have a clear responsibility to care for those in distress, and in this episode, we walk through what whole-life advocacy looks like for the Church as well as how to get involved as college students.  In Image Bearers, Herbie leaves us with several questions, “Am I willing to be inconvenienced in order to defend life?” and, “Is my apathy towards the voiceless contributing to injustice?”  These are challenging questions, but wrestling with them will lead to finding out how we may use our prayers, unique positions, and gifts to fight for the voiceless and care holistically for distressed families.

Biblical Justice

After diving into Scripture and seeking out God’s instruction for life to the fullest on this earth, we should be naturally driven to engage in the world around us while we wait for Jesus’s second coming.  In his book Generous Justice, Tim Keller writes, “A true experience of the grace of Jesus Christ inevitably motivates a man or woman to seek justice in the world.”  

Our salvation motivates us to bring others into the family of God, just as we were once aliens. I believe learning and listening lead to a new understanding of how to love our neighbors well.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
-Ephesians 2:19-22

Dr. Brent Strawn is an author of scholastic works such as The Old Testament: A Concise Introduction and The Old Testament Is Dying (Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic): A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment.  He is currently a professor at Duke’s Divinity School and Law School.

In this episode, Dr. Strawn tackles questions such as, “Does God care about justice?” and explains some parts of the Mosaic law which reflect God’s care for the vulnerable.  When God was king of Israel, the nation operated as a theocracy, and today we still have a responsibility as the Church to act as citizens of heaven. When Jesus enters history, he perfectly displays a life of loyalty to God while living under the earthly government, the Roman empire.  He respects authorities while living totally different than the surrounding culture. He seeks justice for the lowest in society out of a humble overflow of internal righteousness, and we can seek to follow this example.

Modern-day “social justice” seems to be a movement separate from the Church.  What should our involvement look like? Are Christianity and justice separable?  Find out more in Episode 2 of The Dual Citizen Podcast.

Christians are Dual Citizens

Religion and spirituality intersecting with politics? Does that sound like a nightmare to you? You are not alone. If you turn on the news, it won’t take long to feel defeated by lies, darkness, and strife. As students leave their homes and their universities they will have civic responsibilities to fulfill as adult citizens. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe that my faith affects every other sphere of life. I can personally say from experience that a relationship with the King of Kings cannot be confined to a box! The question now is how.  

From what I have observed, it is easy to fall into one of three extremes: First, there are those who believe Jesus is the true King who will return soon, so things are only going to get worse around here and we shouldn’t bother trying to fix it. Second, there are those that have faith and politics in separate boxes that do not interact. Finally, those who place their religious views on politics so much that the two become inseparable and politics becomes the basis of religion.

We must find some kind of balance, but like many other parts of the true Christian faith, finding a balance between the earthly and eternal depends more on one’s heart than his or her actions or voting patterns. Therefore, finding answers to these questions of faith and politics begins with God himself. Only through understanding his character will we be able to represent him in every area of life on earth. 

In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter writes to the Church,

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

This verse of scripture has inspired the idea of The Dual Citizen. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are part of a different brand of people, a different brand of Americans, because we have been called out of the darkness and adopted into the family and kingdom of God. Set featured image

The world around us is hurting and stuck in the darkness that is the result of our sin condition.  The political world is complicated and scary– how are we supposed to know who to believe, how to vote, what to read, where to begin? The Dual Citizen podcast exists to give small, practical steps to becoming a young adult who can confidently sustain an educated conversation about something controversial or something that is happening in Washington. 

Follow along, and we’ll have some helpful conversations that can empower you to be an American citizen who can actually fulfill your adult responsibilities of knowing what’s going on in the world. In the coming months, we will hear from incredible people who live inspiring lives of community-changing conversation and action. 

What Does the Bible Say About Racism?

With everything that is going on in our world, there continue to exist tragedies that remind us that racism remains a prominent issue. The surfacing of the recent video of the death of Ahmaud Arbery has reignited the sentiments surrounding inequality, injustice, and racial inequality. I often wonder how many more tragedies it is going to take for people to wake up to this saddening reality. Honestly, I don’t know. 

The impact racism has on our community is grave and it constantly serves as a reminder of a world of horrors that we, today, are still not very far from. Progress has been made, but there is still so much work to do. People wonder what they can do to help it, fix it, or make it better.  As a black believer, I encourage fellow believers to turn to The Bible and ask, Can you love God but hate his people? 

Partiality, Judgement, and Loving Others

The Bible provides us with the resources to live a God-centered life and is not silent on the topics of partiality, judging others based on appearance, and loving others. It is very clear that the Bible condemns racism. 

Partiality

The Bible also teaches us that God is an impartial God. He shows no partiality towards certain races nor does he favor one type of person over another. We are all seen as the same in Christ. In Acts, Peter comes to the realization that God shows no partiality, saying,

Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
-Acts 10:34

“Every nation”  and “anyone” are words that tell us that across nations, anyone and everyone that fears him and does right is acceptable to him. This means that God’s love for his people crosses over racial and ethnic backgrounds too. In James 2 we find these words, 

But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
-James 2:9

Evidently, God commands us not to show partiality toward others or show favor of one person over another due to their ethnicity, nationality, wealth, or appearance.

Judging Others Based on Appearance

Jesus, at the Feast of Booths, tells the crowd “Do not judge by appearance, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24), and in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel when David is anointed king, God tells Samuel, 

Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
-1 Samuel 16:7

These words reveal to us God’s true nature and the basis upon which he passes judgment. It has nothing to do with the color of your skin, what clothes you wear, and the number of good deeds you’ve done. He searches your heart.

Loving Others

The environments we grow up in shape and influence our beliefs, judgments, biases, and prejudices.  However, one’s unique exposure, or lack thereof,  does not provide us with a proper excuse for the decisions we make, and how we choose to love others. 

 1 John is very clear on loving others and God, as it states: 

If anyone says “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
-1 John 4:20

We Love God by Loving All His People

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we humans have found ways to distinguish ourselves from other people, allowing that separation to shape our thoughts (see James 2:4). Much of this is due to our human nature and sin. However, we have to make the conscious decision to look beyond our differences and see people for who they are: made in the image of God.

The Bible is very vocal about God’s love for his people who are made in His image. In the book of Genesis, on the sixth day, God created man. He said, 

“Let us make the man [humankind] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish in the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, and in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
-Genesis 1:26-27

The word “created” appears three times along with the word “make.” We were created in His image with such intentionality. God made no mistakes. We are all made in His likeness and that includes people of every ethnicity, nationality, and tribe.

As we go deeper into Scripture, we discover passages like 1 John 4:20 and see how crucial it is to love others well. With the coming of Christ, we were given a new commandment about loving others in John 13, and this command appears in the New Testament eleven times. Jesus said, 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
-John 13:34

He also tells us to “treat others as you wish to be treated” (Matthew 7:12) and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Search Your Heart 

Through Christ, we are unified and the gift of salvation is available to people of all ethnicities. His grace is universally available to different people groups. In Galatians Paul tells us: 

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
-Galatians 3:26-28

This verse is one of my favorites because it tells us that despite the degrees of separation that we’ve created, believers are one in Christ. 

So what can people do to work against racism? They can search their own hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to them any prejudices, thoughts, or assumptions that are discriminatory.  They can seek God’s truth and extend love to everyone whether they look just like them or different. They can be vessels of change, speak up, and hold others accountable.

What Makes an Opinion?

What makes an opinion?  The mission of the Dual Citizen is to equip young American Christians to engage in community-changing conversation and action.  A Christian worldview often leads to questions and opposition, and in order to have these conversations, we must be prepared.  This episode was crafted to encourage listeners to do research for themselves and figure out what they believe beyond the surface, theologically and politically.  I interviewed a panel of three students, Cole Shiflet, Trina Leary, and Haley Plemons, all of whom have set examples in strong faith, bold convictions, and thorough research.  

In this conversation, we reflect on the message of Image Bearers by Herbie Newell, which conveys a “whole-life pro-life” ethic, meaning the issue of abortion is not a political line item, but a posture towards all people as bearers of God’s own image, made in his likeness (Genesis 1:26).  These students offer perspectives from three different areas of study: Social Work, Pre-Ministry, and Neuroscience/Pre-Med, which allows us to examine various pro-choice arguments, discuss how to have a conversation with a person of a different faith or none, and share ways to build one’s own foundation on the issue of abortion or any topic.  When we as believers explore all sides of an issue, wrestle with hard questions, and consider how to share our views with love and empathy, we are equipped to confidently engage in a conversation that could lead to sharing the Gospel.  

Tune in to Episode 4 on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts to hear the whole conversation.

Loving the Sojourner

Immigration is one of the most debated issues in America today. For years, political parties in the United States have debated various immigration policies. When it comes to policies regarding immigration, Christians take various positions, but when it comes to how to view and treat immigrants, there is a firm mindset and attitude that Christians should have.

Let me make it clear: this article is not to push a political policy or viewpoint. Rather, I will point to the Biblical truths that should unify us in heart and mind when it comes to the political issue of immigration. Politics is a dangerous ground for Christians, for it is far too easy to allow our selfishness rather than Jesus rule our politics.

As Paul writes in Romans 12:2, our minds desperately need to be renewed. Scripture is clear that we cannot produce this renewal on our own, and that it can only happen by the work of the Spirit in our hearts. In light of this, despite the various conflicting views on immigration among professing Christians, it is essential that we follow God’s commandments and allow Him to transform our hearts and minds.

How do Americans today relate to the Israelites after the Exodus?

You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
-Exodus 22:21

God reminds the Israelites that before they were set free from slavery and became Israel, they ventured into Egypt as sojourners. In other words, sojourners in that time were what we would call immigrants today. And at that time, Israel had a twisted and horrendous view of immigrants trying to join Israel. The Israelites were very closed off to others coming to Israel, and God reminds them here that they were once immigrants in Egypt and now need to treat sojourners as if they were one of their own.

Jesus must transform our political agendas and give us a biblical view on how to approach the issue of immigration. The view of many Americans and Christians today is very similar to that of the Israelites. We see in Exodus 22 and 23 that God tells Moses and the Israelites how to view different issues such as social justice, slavery, and festivals.

What a striking similarity these Israelites hold with many Americans today. Many Americans today view immigrants in general as people they despise and hate. Whether the immigrants come legally or illegally, many people possess a distorted view of them and believe that immigrants are inherently bad. However, there is a great deal of Christians who embrace their brothers and sisters of different backgrounds and nationalities. This embrace is such a beautiful picture of God’s grace and love.

However, America was founded and created by immigrants. In Exodus, we see God directed the Israelites to see that they were once immigrants and need to treat immigrants as themselves, and we as Americans can learn from this as well. We were once immigrants to America and we should treat immigrants in America as equals to ourselves.

Even though we are American, our urgent task should be to view immigration through a Biblical Christian lens and not a patriotic one, for Christ is far greater and far more powerful than any nation ever could be. Because we are Christians before we are American, there should be not separation in our worldviews, especially politically. In light of this, our treatment towards the sojourner should be one of humility and grace. Regardless of our political stance or what policies we may push for, our mindset and treatment towards immigrants should be one of selflessness and love.

Our Citizenship lies in Heaven

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
-1 Peter 2:11

Peter writes this to Christians spread all across the Middle East and Asia. His purpose is to encourage his readers, who are exiles and outcasts in the places where they are, calling them to endure persecution and remember that this is not their home and that Heaven is their actual paradise. Although not written specifically for Americans, this is such a good revelation that should cover us as Christians — that our citizenship lies in Heaven and not on earth.

If our citizenship is in Heaven, then our pride and patriotism should be dethroned by the Almighty God and His throne. God invites us to all become citizens of Heaven by the power of Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. This should humble us that whether we live in America or Turkey or Antarctica; our true citizenship lies in Heaven. As Paul writes to Philippi in Philippians 3:20, But our citizenship is in Heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We can and should apply this truth to our lives.

Our current geographical location does not affect our citizenship. If we have been saved by Christ and Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), then your citizenship lies in Heaven. And if we are citizens of Heaven, and our lives have been saved and transformed by the power of Christ, then we have received the calling to lovingly share the gospel with people of all backgrounds.

What a shame it would be to continue on with our lives, walking in our temporary and earthly citizenship, never sharing the gospel to those who have yet to hear it! What an opportunity, however, it is to be able to proclaim the gospel to those less fortunate than us earthly so that they can become our brothers and sisters and reside in Heaven with us eternally!

Our Call as Christians

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
-Philippians 1:27

Paul writes to the church of Philippi that when he returns to Philippi or hears of them,  he would receive news that they were standing firm in one spirit and with one mind for the faith of the gospel. Paul’s expectation is to see or hear that Philippi has become a community of believers centered around the gospel. This expectation is not merely for those at Philippi, but rather is an expectation that applies to us today, even in our modern context. We must keep the gospel at the center of it all.

As Christians, our call is to treat everyone with love and grace. Our attitude and treatment towards all people should reflect that. As Paul points out, we should be treating immigrants with love. Christ has first loved us (1 John 4:19), which should push us to love because of this great love we’ve been given. In love, our call is to share this incredible gospel with everyone, including immigrants and people on both sides of the political aisle.

The gospel that transforms our hearts and minds is the following: We are all sinners who have disobeyed God and fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23). Because we are sinners, our consequence and punishment is death. However, the gift of life comes through Jesus Christ and him alone (Romans 6:23). This happens only because God loves us and Christ purchases this free gift of life by dying on a cross and rising again three days later (Romans 5:8). If we confess that Jesus is the Christ and is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead then we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

We may have differences on specific policies and laws, but one thing is sure — the only way that we can treat immigrants with love and grace is to be humbled and realize that our citizenship is ultimately in Heaven and comes only through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.