Being a Christian-American

Bible Book: 1 Peter  2 : 11-15
Subject: Independence Day; July 4th; America; Christian Living; Example; Witness

There has been a trend in recent years for Americans to hyphenate their name, in order to distinguish who or what they are. People are no longer just Americans; they are Jewish-Americans, Polish-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans. The hyphens are not just limited to race either. There are disabled-Americans, Obese-Americans, and Vegetarian-Americans. I have even adopted my own hyphenated name. Because my people are from the mountains of Western North Carolina, and I am offended by the term “Hillbilly”, I now wish to be called an Appalachian-American. Honestly, much of the hyphenation in our nation is silly, and in some cases anti-American. However, if any group would be justified in using a hyphen, it would be those Americans who are followers of Jesus Christ.

The Christian-American pledges allegiance to the American flag, while also holding up the blood-stained banner of Christ and His Church.

The Christian-American will fight for the freedom of his fellow-countrymen, while at the same time yielding himself to the rule of the King of Kings.

The Christian-American will place his hand over his heart and sing The Star Spangled Banner, and will lift those same hands with equal reverence as he sings Amazing Grace.

The Christian-American loves his country, and yet he looks for another country that is yet to come. As Christian-Americans, we have a unique place in our nation, unlike any of her other citizens.

As Peter wrote to the Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire some 2,000 years ago, he advised them on how they were to live out their dual roles as residents in an earthly country, and citizens of the heavenly kingdom. By studying Peter’s advice to the believers in his day, we learn some important truths for our lives as American’s today.

The hope for America is not found in the politicians in Washington or the liberals in Hollywood. America’s hope rests in her citizens that have been redeemed out of their sin, and can point their neighbors to the power of the gospel. As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, we do so mindful that as Christian-Americans we have the responsibility of influencing our earthly country for the sake of our heavenly country.

As we look at this text, there are three truths we find regarding our role as Christian-Americans. Notice first of all that we see here:


In verse 11, the Apostle Peter wrote to those living within Roman provinces, and under Roman rule, and said, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims…”

Peter referred to the believers scattered throughout Rome as “strangers and pilgrims.” Though the majority of them were citizens of the Roman Empire, their connection to their country was unique.

Like you, I am proud to be an American. I am grateful to God that I was born in this great nation, and I gladly pledge my allegiance to her. Yet, America is not the only country and land to which I am connected. Look with me at the two titles Peter uses in verse 11, and let’s draw from them a couple of truths about our connection to our earthly country. Notice first of all that:

A. We are strangers

In verse 11, Peter addressed the Christians scattered throughout Rome as “strangers and pilgrims.” In the original text, the two Greek words that Peter chose are very similar. They both indicate someone who resides in a foreign country. The truth Peter was trying to convey is that while a Christian may live among the native people of his country, he is not truly like them. In other words, there is supposed to be something strange and foreign about the life of a Christian.

As Christian-Americans, we may live in the same communities as the lost people around us, but we are not supposed to love the same culture as those around us. We are supposed to be strangers in this world. We are not comfortable with the sinful amusements of our society. We are not compliant with the social pressures of a godless age. While we share a common land, we are not supposed to share a common life. The believer is a stranger in this world, and the Christian-American is supposed to be different from the American that does not know Christ.

America has been called “The Melting Pot”, because of the ethnic and cultural diversity that exists here. The phrase “melting pot” most likely comes from a 1908 play by the same name. In the play, one of the characters says, “Understand that America is God’s Crucible, the great melting pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming…Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians – into the crucible with you all! God is making the American.”[i]

While part of what makes America so great is her unity in spite of diversity, there is a sense in which we as God’s people can never get completely melted into our nation’s culture. The truth of God’s Word is that as Christian-Americans, we are strangers in this land. We are separate from those that are attached and connected to the sinful culture of this age.

Notice another aspect of our connection with this country. Notice not only that we are strangers, but notice also further that:

B. We are settlers

Look again at verse 11. Peter addresses the believers as “strangers and pilgrims.” Notice that second title, pilgrims. The Greek word that Peter chose here is one that speaks of a foreigner that has settled among the natives of a particular country. The word literally means an alien resident. Yes, Christ’s people are strangers in this country, and yet, we are citizens of it as well. We may be foreigners, but we are living as residents in this great nation.

There is a sense in which Christian-Americans must live separately from the world around them. And yet, there is another sense in which as residents, we have a responsibility to participate in the life of our land. I am on my way to heaven, but until I get there, I am a red-blooded, flag-waving, tax-paying, citizen of the great Republic of the United States of America. I believe in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, apple pie, and baseball. I support the troops, I won’t burn a flag, and I vote when they open the polls. As Christians-Americans, we separate ourselves from sin, but that does not mean that detach ourselves from society. We have an obligation as residents of this country to engage in the process of being a good citizen as well as a good Christian

Don’t complain about the decline of our country if you will not vote and participate. Our connection to this country is one of a stranger as well as a settler, and we must learn to live as both.

Notice a second truth we draw from this text. Notice not only our connection with this country, but notice also further that Peter teaches us something about:


Look again at our text, and notice again verse 11. Peter says, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”

He goes on in verse 12 and says, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

After the apostle reminds us of our unique connection to our country, he goes on to instruct us on how we are to conduct and behave ourselves as God’s people in this nation. From these verses we draw a couple of truths for our conduct as Christian-Americans. Notice first of all:

A. Our conduct should be abstinent

In verse 11, Peter urges and pleads with Christ’s people to “abstain from fleshly lusts…” Notice that word “abstain”. It comes from a Greek word that literally means to hold back. The Word of God says that as heavenly citizens of an earthly country, we should hold ourselves back from the lusts and desires of our sinful flesh. Unfortunately, we live in a day when hedonism rules and too often the motto is, “If it feels good, do it.” We live in a time when people across our nation will satisfy any desire, and fill any craving, regardless of the moral boundaries they cross in order to do so. Things that were once culturally shameful are now widely accepted. The line between right and wrong has been blurred, or erased all together.

Yet, in the midst of a permissive, pagan, and promiscuous society, we as God’s people must hold back. We cannot give in to the lusts that war against us day after day.

The Olympics are coming soon, and I am sure that McDonalds will once again be a leading sponsor of the games. What is funny to me is that probably none of the athletes ate Big Mac’s in order to get themselves ready for competition. No, because of who they were, they had to abstain from fast food and other things that would hinder them. As believers we must remember that not everything that looks good and sounds good is actually good. Peter challenges us to abstain from the lusts toward sin that often plague our bodies.

The Christian-American’s conduct should not only be abstinent, but notice also further that:

B. Our conduct should be attractive

Look again at verse 11. Peter is dealing with the Christian’s conduct in the world. He says, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles…” The word “conversation” literally means behavior or conduct. Notice the word “honest.” It comes from a Greek word that literally means beautiful. The idea is that our lives should be beautiful and attractive to the world around us. We should live in such a unique and Christ-like way that our lives are magnetic to those without Christ. The world has its own standards of beauty. Society says that beauty has to do with our bodies, our hair style, and the clothes we wear.

The Bible says that what makes a person truly attractive is the kind of life they live. As Christian-Americans, we should be less concerned with looking like the models in the magazines, and more like the Christ in the Scriptures.

When I was in school, we would rate a girl’s looks on a scale of 1-10. If she was physically attractive, she would be a 9 or a 10. If she was built like a line-backer, and had a glass eye, she was likely to be a 1 or a 2. Our childish beauty scale is foolish, I know, but what if we were to apply it spiritually. How attractive is your Christian life? Do people want to know more about Christ when they are around you? Is your Christian life a 10, or more like a 2? As Christian-Americans, we are to conduct ourselves with abstinence and attractiveness.

There is one more truth we draw from this passage. Peter teaches not only about our connection with this country, and our conduct in this country, but notice also thirdly that we see:


Jesus said that His followers were to be salt and light in their world. In other words, Christians are supposed to make a contribution and an impact upon the place where they live.

In verse 13 through 15, Peter deals with the kind of role we are to play in our country, and the contribution we are supposed to make.

As a Christian-American, what are we to do for and in our nation? There are two things we find in these verses. First of all:

A. We respect the law

Look at verse 13. Peter writes, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake…” He goes on to say that whether we under the rule of a king or a governor, we are to obey the laws of our land. Peter was trying to communicate to the first believers the importance of submitting to the social order in which they lived. For them, it was the Roman Empire, which at times proved difficult to endure. For us, the social rule in our lives happens to be the laws of the United States. While we certainly do not agree with all the laws of our land, we have a Christian responsibility to obey them.

The truth we draw from this text is that the greatest Americans ought to be Christian-Americans. No one should be better citizens, better neighbors, or better people than those who claim the name of Christ. Christians should not cheat on their taxes. Christians should not lie for any reason. Christians should not fight with their neighbors. Christians should not disrespect their government and its leaders. Regardless of how lawless and rebellious the rest of our nation becomes, we have a Biblical responsibility to do the right thing. As Christians, we contribute in our earthly home by first of all submitting to its laws and obeying the powers that be.

That is not all, however. Peter goes on to point out that our contribution to this country is not only that we respect the Law, but also that:

B. We represent the Lord

I love verse 15. Peter says, “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Notice that phrase, “put to silence”. It comes from a Greek word that literally means to muzzle, or to close the mouth of someone. Right now, about the only segment of our population that it is safe to mock and ridicule is the conservative Christian. Men who are ignorant of the truth, and foolish in their attitude openly make fun of the faith we hold dear. One the loudest spokesmen against Christianity has been media mogul, Ted Turner. He continually expresses his disdain for evangelicals, and once said that Christianity is a “religion for losers”, and that pro-life supporters were “bozos.”[ii]

Peter says that we can actually shut the mouths of men like Ted Turner through “well doing”. By doing good and living for Christ, we can silence those that would attack us. The reality is that as Christian-Americans we are the representatives of Jesus Christ, and the greatest contribution we can make to our country is portraying Jesus in our lives.


I read about a woman that had a dream. In her dream she was told that the Lord Jesus was coming to visit her at her home. She got the house in order, put on her nicest clothes, and waited for his arrival. When the door bell rang, she quickly opened the door, but was surprised to see an emaciated, ragged, dirty man standing there. She said, “Who are you?” The man said, “I am Jesus.” She said, “You’re not the Jesus I know!” He said, “No, but I’m the Jesus everyone sees in you.”

What kind of Jesus do you portray to your world? Do people see a selfish, uncaring, carnal Christ in you? Peter reminds us that we are His representatives in this world.

I still believe that America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. I believe there is still hope for America. However, I do not believe that America’s hope lies in a better economy, a new president, or peace in the Middle East. America’s only hope is Jesus Christ. The only way Jesus Christ can help America is through those citizens in America that know Him, and live for Him. Because of sin, and spiritual apathy, America the beautiful is increasingly becoming America the pitiful. It is time that we as God’s people repent, and determine that we will live for Christ in the midst of dark and decayed culture. One day we will transfer permanently our American citizenship for a place in the kingdom of heaven. Until that day, we must fulfill our roles as Christian-Americans.


[i] Melting Pot,, 6/5/08

[ii] Limbaugh, David, Persecution, (Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC, 2003), p. 270.