My mother-in-law busted the mold for mothers-in-law just like my own mom broke the mold for step-mothers (but that’s perhaps for another writing.) Jo, widowed for four years, met and married an equally wonderful widower, a Brit, a fairy-tale Prince Charming who whisked her away from Indiana to a cottage on the English Channel, complete with castles, bobbies, and tea time.
But it didn’t take too terribly long before she found out that, to put it in her own words, “England is a foreign country!” Not only do they drive on the OTHER side of the road, not only do they have OTHER spellings for words like “tire”, there are also OTHER customs strange to someone even as genteel and experienced like my dear Jo.
Case in point: hosting a dinner party one day, she picked up the nicely made dessert and passed it to the person next to her after which she then got up to the kitchen to fetch the coffee. Upon returning to the table, she saw her sweet husband up out of his seat, holding the dessert and taking it by turn to each guest one by one. Another lesson learned—one does not “pass-it-around-the-table” good ole’ Midwest homecookin’ style.
Learning new citizenship takes time and practice, (and grace and patience on the part of those around us). Paul seemed to understand this concept when he penned:
“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.”
Paul’s letters to the early Christians are replete with references to observable behavioral changes. In our current American climate, however, Christianity is reviled for being a list of do’s and don’ts, making God look like some cosmic killjoy with an evil grin on His face and a lightning bolt posed in one hand. OR, conversely we are criticized for behaving no differently than the rest of the world, as in “so what’s the big deal?”
But behavior IS a big deal. It is only by grace we are saved from an inherent human nature that keeps us from knowing God, and it is only by grace that God’s new nature is installed in our hard drive. Paul refers to it as the “new creation” factor. AND the evidence of that new nature…
…is our obedience. Interestingly, God still gives us the option to choose, but now that He is in the equation, things are different.
“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Renouncing one citizenship for another—that’s a pretty big decision. Giving up one passport to gain another takes effort. However, when it comes to God’s kingdom, here is another one of the good parts about being a citizen—
We are in this struggle together.
Phil. 1: 27, 30 and Phil 2:12, 13 Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 32393-32414). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.