Had a different blog planned for today but I was so inspired by a message I heard yesterday that I decided to push the other one for Friday instead.
As part of our church’s prayer and fasting week, we had a prayer meeting last night to pray for the Philippines. The speaker, Bishop Ef Tendero, shared his heart on what every Christian can and should do for their country.
First, the right perspective: 1 Peter 2:11 calls believers “exiles” – people without a home land or country, similar to refugees. And this is true for Christians because once we have put our faith in Jesus, we have become citizens of Heaven and that trumps any earthly allegiance we have.
But many use this as an excuse for apathy and disinterest. But that’s not the right way to view it. Instead, Bishop Ef looked at the instructions God gave the Israelites when they were exiled. Reading from Jeremiah 29:4-7
4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.
6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters.
Increase in number there; do not decrease.
7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.
Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
1. “Build houses and settle down” – Commit to your nation.
To build a house speaks of a sense of permanency. It’s a decision to stay and not to leave at the earliest possible convenience. It’s a decision to let down deep roots into the soil. Christians must not be half-hearted or tentative about where God has placed them*. That’s how I feel about the Philippines. I love traveling, but I only have one home country.
2. “Plant gardens and eat what they produce” – Engage in economic development.
Agriculture was the main business of that time, and God commanded His people to participate in it. It meant entering into the rhythm of that land and learning its intricacies. It also meant not being mere consumers in that land but co-creators – producing for the benefit of others.
Christians are called to work hard and produce! I had two conversations yesterday with men who are skilled in their fields – one in marketing and social media and another in branding and business development – and have become highly prized for it. In their own way, they are building the nation by their expertise and hard work.
3. “Marry and have sons and daughters…” – Build strong families.
Since a nation is only as strong as its family units, one of the most tangible ways any Filipino can build our nation is through strengthening their family unit. Moms and dads, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, lolos, lolas, and more… If we love our family members, serve them, and do what we can to keep those relationships intact and healthy, we are also strengthening our nation. You may never occupy a government position, but you have already served your country.
Another major part of this is discipling our family members – helping them follow Jesus and sharing to the ones who don’t know Him yet.
4. “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city” – Seek the welfare and development of our country.
Beyond participating only in religious activities, Christians are called to influence society for the better. That doesn’t mean mere conversion or swelling church attendance, but taking the truths and principles of our faith – sacrificial love, service, hardwork, creativity, etc. – and applying them to the different sectors of society. Here’s a thought: let’s not have all Christians flock to the church, but let’s do our best in these different fields to lift our nation up together.
5. “Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” – Pray for our nation.
It sounds basic, but is it really? In the times that we do pray, like take it into our mind or verbalize something believing that God hears us, how much of that is for our nation and how much is just for us?
There we have it. As citizens of Heaven, we know where we will ultimately spend eternity. But while we’re here, let’s build our nation. Thanks, Bishop Ef, for the message!
*I don’t think this is any statement against those God has led outside of their original country into another one. The main question isn’t “Have you immigrated or not?” It’s about why you stay or go where you do. Is it because God has led you to do that or is it from a purely financial, aspirational, fanciful, perspective?