Citizen was a refreshing look at what it means to walk as a follower of Jesus. Peabody directly confronts the me-centered religion that many modern Americans substitute for authentic Christianity. Having moved from Texas as a pastor in a mega-church, Peabody ended up in London reaching the lost in a post-Christian culture.
While there were many quotes in the book that gave challenged me, perhaps this is the one that spoke most to me:
Back to our earlier statement: citizens of the Kingdom should be the most risk-taking people on the planet. Why, you ask? Because we have absolutely nothing to lose. Citizen, this is your reality: you died with Jesus and were buried with Him. You were united with Him in His death, and therefore you have already died, and there is no fear of death for people who have already died. Death has already been dealt with. What is the worst that can now happen to you? (p. 98-99)
The book challenges us as followers of Jesus to re-examine what it means to live as members of the Kingdom of God, as citizens from one world who live in this one. And it’s not an easy challenge to ignore. Peabody doesn’t simply remind us of what scripture calls us to, he models for us what it means to live that way and shares his experiences with us. While reading the book I found myself not only challenged to live differently but also longing to meet the challenge; it wasn’t just an intellectual challenge but one that tugged at my heart and I found myself changing how I view my own interactions with people now.
One thing I particularly appreciated about the book was the amount of time Peabody spent reminding me of my identity in Christ and his focus on the community of believers, and his application of these truths to my own life; Peabody makes clear that living as a citizen of heaven is the right (and responsibility) of every believer – not just those in professional ministry. Over the past year, in particular, I’ve been focused on trying to understand and experience what it is to live in community with other believers – both from my own church and from other churches. Peabody’s words paralleled, in many ways, what I have been learning this year on these two topics. Read Peabody’s words, again:
The gospel in no way supports a ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ distinction. In fact, the gospel message is exactly the opposite. Jesus died, and the veil separating the ‘Holy of Holies’ from the common area in the Temple was torn…The gospel is a proclamation that no longer is there a divide between ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’. Jesus infiltrates all your life and desires to penetrate every sphere in which you are active. Therefore, Christianity is not simply a set of beliefs to adhere to in order to save your individual soul and escape the world at death or the rapture, but is actually a new way of seeing (and experiencing) everything in the world.
Are we artists, baristas, teachers, electricians, engineers, students, or factory workers who also just happen to be citizens of the Kingdom? Or are we, first of all, citizens of the Kingdom who happen to serve vocationally in these ways?
Our baseline for living has been changed to a Kingdom baseline. The gospel and the Father’s Kingdom are now the foundations for the citizen, and all of our other loyalties are to be viewed through this lens. When this lens is used, we can clearly see that a job as a banker can be just as glorifying to God and just as Kingdom-focused as the life of a missionary out witnessing every day. For the citizen, it is about who you are and how you live, not about your title or job description.
If that touches your soul, challenges your heart, and draws you in so that you find yourself wanting more, wanting to say, “That’s how I want to live!”, then I would strongly recommend you purchase Citizen and start reading it. I’m giving this book 5/5 stars.
For the record, I did receive a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for an honest (though not necessarily favorable) review. For more information on the book, or the ministry of which Peabody is associated, visit http://www.citizenthebook.com/