April 24, 1991
“If being an American abroad presents safety concerns for you, consider Passafe passport covers...” entreats a recent ad in the New York Times.
The pitch promoted phoney cardboard covers labeled “Canada,” “Argentina,” or “Guyana.” Supposedly, anyone from south of our border could tuck their passport into a false cover and breeze through transportation terminals without any hassle from anti-American activists.
Cowardly or sensible? Personally, I thought twice about passing judgment on people who are afraid to admit their citizenship. I’m a citizen of heaven and should always be willing to declare it, but sometimes I don’t – for fear that someone might hassle me.
Logically, it seems there should be no problem. God made me His child and an heir of salvation. He rescued me from the penalty of sin, exalted me to sit with Christ in heavenly places and gave me the awesome responsibility of being one of His ambassadors here on earth, a representative for Him to those who are still citizens of the world.
Yet sometimes declaring it is a problem. It’s hard to speak to people who don’t know how to change their citizenship, even though we Christians have an obligation to tell them. Anyone can be a heavenly citizen by admitting their sins and putting their faith in Christ. He offers all the free gift of eternal life and the good news concerning that life is a treasure to be shared, not hidden or covered up in silence.
We sometimes call ourselves “Closet Christians” when we are afraid of ridicule and rejection. We realize some people are not at all interested in hearing the gospel and will ridicule both the message and the messengers. Sometimes they do more than scoff and we back-off, claiming to be “sensitive” when our problem is a strong sense of self-preservation. It is easier to simply not tell anybody than cope with rejection and humiliation.
Jesus offered some encouraging words about the importance of telling people we are Christians: “Whosoever... shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). That is, if we expect Him to put in a good word for us, we need to speak up.
However, eternity is an unseen future. No matter how much we might want God to think well of us, it is difficult to get around our desire to be accepted by others, even more so if rejection has been a big part of our life. We may even think God will surely not be too hard on a shy person who has trouble even saying “hello” or an abused person who is not sure of who they are. After all, doesn’t the way people treat us have a big bearing on our personalities? Not everyone is out-going and confident. Doesn’t God relax the rules a little for bashful and timid people?
Not so. Jesus also said, “But whoever denies me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (vs.33). There is one standard for all: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God hath raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
It is clear that all Christians are required to speak up, not cover up. Understandably, not everyone wants to hear what Christians have to say, however that is not an excuse for denying Him. He was willing to die for our sinfulness; surely we can admit we believe in Him and love Him.
The American government is committed to protect its citizens. Will not God protect those who, openly and without shame, display His passport?