Tourist or Citizen of the Best Kingdom Ever?

No, I did not run over this man! He’s changing oil in my car along the street in Mexico.

When I mention to someone that we live part of the year in Mexico the frequent response is, “Oh, I’ve been to Mexico.” I usually respond something to the effect, “Oh, really? Where in Mexico?” Almost always they list one of the proverbial touristy areas of Mexico. While smiling and being civil on the outside, inwardly I’m thinking, “No, you’ve really not ‘been’ to Mexico, you’ve not experienced the real Mexico. You’ve experienced a Mexican resort.”

Tourists relate to Mexicans who are familiar with Americans, who know at least a little English, and whose job it is to give tourists a good time and/or sell them souvenirs. It’s a very limited and narrow way of experiencing Mexico; living in Mexico is something entirely different! Really, experiencing Mexico means shopping in a Truper hardware store, grocery shopping at a tianguis (an outdoor market), buying a car in Mexico the speedometer of which measures your speed in kilometers per hour and not miles per hour, getting your car’s oil changed on the street, and building a house with a contractor who doesn’t speak English. Yes, there’s a big difference between being a tourist in a country and being a resident!

My wife and I divide our time between living in Mexico (to be near our daughter and her family) and in Florida (to be near our son and his family). But we also live in a third country, full-time, (to be near God). It’s a country without borders, a country not of this world. Jesus talked a lot about this country, it’s called the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, where God is the king, the ruler. When it comes to His kingdom we can sign either citizenship papers or a tourist visa.

A tourist approach to experiencing God’s kingdom means we want to experience the highlights of God – a few inspiring worship services, especially around the holidays, answers to occasional desperate prayers, and comfort from Him in those times when we’re at our whit’s end. Our citizenship is with the Kingdom of Selfdom, where we can live our own way, ruled by King Self or Queen Self.

On the other hand, being a citizen of God’s Kingdom means we put Him in charge; He’s on the throne of our life. We yield to His wishes instead of to our whims, allowing Him to dominate everything we think, say, and do. This all seems very sacrificial, and it is, but there are also tremendous benefits to being part of His kingdom! We experience a growing personal relationship with the King of the universe Himself and have the satisfaction of living an ultimately purposeful life with access to such highly desired benefits from Him as peace, joy, and love.

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus, in His “Lord’s Prayer”

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