We Have Dual Citizenship
WE CONTINUE our beautiful series, Citizen: How To Build a Nation, with Talk 2: We Have Dual Citizenship. And I’m praying this will bless you, this will change you, and it will minister to you.
I invite you to say this prayer with me deliberately, as we come in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…
Everybody, raise your hands and together with me, say this:
Let’s give honor and reverence for God’s Word, as we all sing:
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
Holy Spirit, use this time to speak to us.
Two Questions…And More
We opened this series last Sunday (March 20, 2022) with a beautiful message where we said “God likes politics.” It’s a little new message to think that, “Hey, God likes politics.”
He does. Why? Because God loves you. God is concerned about you. Like Bro. Bo said, politics is one of the messiest, the dirtiest arenas in the world, and God is concerned. Because that’s where sin has infected and infested the life and heart of many. And what did we say? We’re called to what? We’re called to serve the Lord through politics. By discerning who the best candidate is for you. And looking at politics– the issues of politics— through the lens of faith.
And so, we’re called to be restorers—not destroyers.
Today, we’re going to move forward in faith with this message.
But before I do that, may I share with you a personal story? I remember when I was in college, 10 years ago, I happened to pick up this book that was lying around in our home. I think it was my brother who was reading it. My brother is very intellectual.
So, the book was titled Sophie’s World. It’s very deep book. I mean, it’s a philosophical book. I wasn’t able to finish it. I couldn’t get past Chapter 5 without getting a migraine.
That’s how deep the book was. It’s a philosophical book that tries to answer two of Life’s most difficult questions: Who am I? Where does the world come from?
Not only did I not get answers to the questions —because I didn’t finish the book. But the book also opened a Pandora’s box of other existential questions. Like, I started asking: Why was I born into this family? Why am I a Villaraza, and not a Sanchez? I mean (Bo and Marowe) I could have called you Daddy and Mommy. I could have been brother of your sons Bene and Francis.
I wasn’t a Sanchez—or a Lubaton, or a Barcelona. Why was I a Villaraza?
Have you ever asked those questions: Why were you born in that family? Why are those your parents?
Another question for me was: Why was I born a brown-skinned Filipino? Not the light-skinned Koreans, like Jin and Jungkook of the now popular boy band, BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan). At right, Facebook photo of the BTS Facebook page, the band members, from left: Taehyung, a.k.a. V; Yoong, a.k.a. Suga; Jin; Jungkook; Namjoon, a.k.a. RM; Jimin; and Hoseok, a.k.a. Johpe.
Shout out to the BTS Army!
I just lost half of the crowd who are seniors!
Or another existential question: Why am I gwapo (handsome)?
Or maybe, the other serious question: Why am I delusional? Ha-ha!
Actually, I still don’t have the answers to all those existential questions, except for one thing—and I do know this for a fact. I know that God has a purpose. God’s got a purpose in everything that He creates, and in everything that He does.
That’s our big message for the day. Our message today is extra-special.
It’s going to dig deep, deep down in your citizenship.
Here’s the message: God made you Filipino for a purpose.
And just in case you’re a foreigner, just change that little line of citizenship, that Filipino nationality, with your nationality. God made you Australian for a purpose. God made you a Chinese for a purpose. God made you Indian for a purpose. Because God always has a purpose.
Let’s read Philippians Chapter 3:20:
Philippians is one of those epistles, or letters, that Paul wrote. He wrote a lot of letters to the different churches that he put up. He wrote a letter to the Romans, to the Corinthians, to the Thessalonians, to the Ephesians, right? There were so many that Paul wrote to: the Sharonians, the Vilmanians, the Noranians. Ha-ha. See, that’s another existential question: Lord, why did you make me so corny?
Okay, back to Philippians 3:20. Quick trivia: This is the only time in any of the letters that Paul wrote when he actually used the word citizen. And it’s to address the people of Philippi. Why is this? It’s because the people of Philippi where special people. Philippi was a city where two kinds of people lived: the people who were actually residents; and those who transferred, moved into Philippi– and most of them were retired Roman soldiers. When they were done with their tour of duty, their service to the Empire, the Emperor gave them land in Philippi. So, they were dual citizens. Not only were they residents of Rome, they were also residents of Philippi.
We have two friends in LOJ who have dual citizenship. My friend George Gabriel – he’s now in New Zealand together with his family. He has dual citizenship. Not only is he a Filipino citizen. But he’s also an American citizen. He was born in the United States.
The other friend we have who is also a dual citizen is Bro. Adrian Panganiban. Not only is Bro. Adrian a Filipino citizen. But he’s also a senior citizen.
Shocking, right? You’d think he’s 40.
When he shows his senior card to drug stores and restaurants, they don’t believe him. They even ask for a Letter of Authority– whatever that is.
All senior citizens, congratulations! You are dual citizens.
You Represent Heaven
So, what is Paul doing in this verse? Here, Paul is recognizing the duality of citizenship. And this is beautiful. This is something I believe we can all relate to– during this time. Paul is saying to the Philippians, “You’re not only a citizen of Philippi, but you are also a citizen of Heaven.” We are citizens of Heaven. And if you relate this to what’s happening today, you realize that, hey, we’ve got different political candidates that we’re supporting. We’ve got different political alliances that we want to belong to.
We’ve got different political ideologies and beliefs that we adhere to.
But make no mistake. At the end of the day, we are all part of One Body— the Body of Christ.
News flash: When you get to Heaven– and I pray that we all get to Heaven, one day—you’ll note that in Heaven, there will be no partisans. There will be no party lists. There will be no political alliances because in Heaven, all of us are one group of chorus and chorale praising the Lord, our One God. That’s what Heaven will look like. No politics in Heaven. There will be politicians, we pray. But there will be no politics there. God will reign supreme. God will be sovereign in that Kingdom. And we’re all going to be brothers and sisters.
So, I want you to look at that person beside you. You know, that person might be supporting a candidate different from your choice. But at the end of the day, that person belongs to God. And that person is loved by God.
God made you who you are for a purpose and that’s our message for today.
I want you to bow, close your eyes, if that’s what you want to do to experience God’s Presence in this place. Let’s pray:
Lord, thank You, that Your Presence is felt and it’s tangible. Even if the people on the other side of the screen are not here, Lord, I believe that You’re there with them too. And that’s more than enough. We pray that Your grace and Your wisdom fall upon us, Lord, and change us, and minister to us. Heal us, Lord, from our anger, our bitterness, our selfishness, and our pride—that blind us, Lord, to the work that You are doing.
Let love reign, Lord, during this time in our life, in this time of our nation. Let peace reign. Let understanding reign. And let Your Presence be felt. Minister to us, Jesus. Only You can change us. This is our prayer, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
What Does Separation of Church and State Mean? One of the difficult issues that a lot of people talk about today is the separation between Church and State.
That people are saying that the Church and the State are separated—you can’t meddle with one and the other. That’s why people are complaining about priests who use the pulpit to talk about politics, telling the priests, “You can’t do that. There’s a separation between Church and State.”
But you know, for us to understand this issue, let’s go back when this started. Let’s go all the way back to the 18th century—the time the separation between Church and State was promulgated as part of our Constitution. But, hey, only in the 16th century—two centuries before— the Spaniards came, right? They colonized us, and they introduced Catholicism which became our State religion. That’s why, you know, the country is predominantly Catholic. Although now, we’ve got a lot of other religions.
But back in the 16th century, there was no separation between Church and State—they were one and the same. They were united.
Because, No. 1: The State could dictate to the Church, for example, who to put up as Bishop, who to nominate as Church leader, or maybe they could even tell where to build churches. That’s how they did it, right?
And then, on the other spectrum, the Church also shared equal power with the State. Do you remember that? If you studied the life of Jose Rizal and the books that he wrote—you’ll note how the Spanish friars had equal power as that of the Gobernador General. That’s where the problem actually started. Because the spiritual leaders —some of them—they were the ones who committed abuse, maltreatment of the Filipinos whom they called indios. You remember your history?
And so, the Filipinos started retaliating. They started fighting back. And it was in 1898 that they drafted a Constitution that made the separation of Church and State official. Yes, we might have lost Catholicism as our State religion—that’s why we’ve got a lot of other different religions now. But actually, the separation between Church and State was a good thing. Why?
Because now the State cannot control what the Church can teach and preach. That’s why, sometimes, every so often, you see priests taking a stand about what is good, what is right, what is evil. You know, they fight against evil. And some people complain about this.
Here’s the thing: You know, like everything else in life, you need balance. So, if there is a priest or a spiritual leader who talks about politics non-stop, guess what—that’s problematic. Because politics may be important, especially in our season now—but we all know it’s not the only thing that we need. If a priest or a preacher would come here and talk about politics, about nation… make no mistake—you’ve got other needs to feed your soul, right? Forgiveness, belief, faith, hope, love.
That’s why here at The Feast, we try our best to build a structure of different themes and topics—sometimes we talk about money, sometimes we talk about relationships, sometimes we talk about habits. Why? Because everything needs to be balanced.
Let me go back to the separation of Church and State. That’s why now, you’ve got people rising up to take a stand—spiritual leaders banding together and telling you, “This is whom you vote for. This is what you need to vote for.”
But let me clarify: The separation between Church and State is not about what the Church cannot do. But it’s about what the State cannot do. And one of the things that the State cannot do is to control what the priests will teach us. What our spiritual leaders will teach us. And one which, I believe, as a Church we should be teaching people is voters’ education. It’s not necessarily to endorse a candidate but it’s to teach voters’ education.
Let me put it this way: If the State’s role is to elect officials, the role of the Church is to educate consciences. It’s to help you, educate, deep within, what is God trying to teach us to discern. That’s why you notice, there are a lot of Bishops over the past few decades, who’ve been encouraging people to go through what they call circles of discernment—as a community, as a family, as a small group. You know, come together, talk about it, look at the qualifications of each person. Spiritually, you pray, you discern.
But a very practical tip: Don’t forget local politics. I know that every election, all eyes are always on the national level—Who am I going to choose as president, vice president, senator. Have you chosen your Magic 12? Your candidate? But that’s the only thing that sometimes we focus on.
Listen to this: No matter how great your President is, no matter how good your leader is on top, if you’ve got a bad Mayor, you still got problems, right? Because the top leaders don’t have the solutions to the immediate problems of your community. So, please put the focus also on your LGUs, on your local politics. Pray and discern the leaders who God needs to put in that place.
Very quick, I’m going to teach you 5 Cs of what we’re learning from the Church to guide us in choosing national and local officials. We’ve given you some already.
Okay, we’re going to learn the 5 Cs of qualifications of what we need to look for in every leader, in every candidate who is applying to be our leader.
Conscience is very powerful—it’s the only thing that separates you between the animals out there, between the beasts out there. And how do you find somebody who’s got a good conscience? Somebody who’s got a moral compass?
You ask, “How do you know, Bro. Audee, if these persons look like they’ve got a moral compass? They post about God all the time. I don’t know.”
Check their platform. Are their platforms showing that they’ve got a moral compass? Are they pro-Life? Are they pro-poor? Are they pro-dignity?
And here’s the thing: You will not find a candidate who will best fit all of your non-negotiable standards. There’s no such thing. Because only Jesus would fit your standards.
But here’s what you need to do: You look for candidates that fit the closest to what you adhere to. Because if those persons are closer to the principles you believe in, it is easy to pray for them… If you compare them to somebody who is far away from the principles that you hold dear to your heart, it’s harder to convince others to vote for them. If, for instance, you’re pro-poor, but that candidate is pro-rich, how are you going to convince others to choose your candidate—there’s a gap right? Or, if you are pro-Life and the person is pro-non-Life, or pro-Death—is there such a thing?
So, you look for those who are closest to your principles. Because you can pray for them.
May I ask you this question: Would you ride an airplane if you know that the pilot is funny and tall, and comes from a good family background—but did not pass the pilot exam? Would you ride that airplane? Unless you want to go to Heaven right away, then you’d ride that plane.
In the same way, that applies to what’s happening in our country. Would you choose a candidate you know is not equipped to navigate our country, you know, to a better path. Look at the candidates’ past achievements. Look at what they had done. You look at their track record. That’s how you find competence. We want somebody who has experience to navigate where we want to go.
We always say that Jesus is a Man of Mercy, a Man of Compassion. We want leader a who is compassionate. Candidates who have the poor in their heart. Not somebody who’d just give a dole-out– because it’s election season. But somebody who has, actually, a long-term platform for the cause of the poor, alleviate their suffering. Somebody who is compassionate like Jesus.
Who are the candidates’ advisors? Are they people of integrity? Are they beholden to powerful families? Check also the platform of their political party. Are they just huge promises or actual concrete programs?
Companionship is important. It’s another way of saying friendship. I said this last week—that you can tell an awful lot about persons based on the company they keep. Are there people surrounding these candidates that you know are influential, and that the candidates would be indebted to? That’s dangerous. Because they’d start listening to the influential company and not listen to, you know, the Holy Spirit—or good influences.
So, look at the people they hang around with.
Do they have Political Will? It’s easy to make grand plans– but will they be able to execute those plans? Will they have the strength to stick to their principles?
Commitment is good. Because it’s going to be a relationship. And make no mistake: this is a six-year relationship with your leader. Some of you don’t even last in a relationship for a year, if you know that the other person lacks commitment, right? This is a six-year relationship with somebody. So, choose well.
Choose somebody who’s got a strong political will. Somebody who has the will to follow through in achieving the goals. Not somebody who will say just the nicest things, or the most beautiful things to get your vote. But you know that this person has the political will to take us all the way to six years of growth, six years of development, six years of goodness, and good governance.
I want to end with this: Paul has been teaching us that he’s recognizing the duality of citizenship and he is saying we are citizens of Heaven. Yes, he’s saying: You might have a different political background, a different ideology; You might even support a difficult, a different candidate and be loyal to that candidate; But you know, at the end of the day, we never forget where our loyalty should lie in.
Paul says that we are not citizens just of this country. We are citizens not just of Philippi. But we’re citizens of the world. And so, yes, pray. Pray about the misinformation, the violence, the anger, the bitterness, the lack of love that’s bombarding us everywhere. But also pray for the actual missiles bombing Ukraine. Also, pray for those who are going hungry right now. Because we’re citizens of the world.
But ultimately, we’re citizens of Heaven. No matter what happens, at the end of this election, no matter who sits in that position, in the highest position, no matter who gets elected, make no mistake, my dear friends, God still has His plan. God is still sovereign. The last time I checked, God is still working for the good of all those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. God is still for the good. And God will fight for the good.
During this election season, a lot of people will make promises to you… But we all know the truth. We’re all broken. There’s only One Person who will promise and will deliver that promise. And His name is Jesus. And so, we trust Jesus. We thank Jesus. We walk with Jesus. There is a purpose God made you who you are– why He planted you in that family, why He planted you in that organization or company. And I pray that you get to discover that.
IMAGINE if God made you not a Filipino.
Imagine if you were born in Japan, with a Japanese family. Wouldn’t that be cool? You’d be bowing a lot—instead of shaking hands. You’d be eating sushi every day. Wooo! You’d be having morning calisthenics in your office every day.
Or imagine if you were born in Switzerland. You would be right now 6’2”, blond hair, blue eyes.
But no. You were born a Filipino. Brown, kind, funny, beautiful, smart, amazing. God made you Filipino for a purpose. What purpose?
It’s this purpose: God made you His
Filipino agent of transformation. That’s what He did.
Can you put your hand on your chest and say, “I’m God’s Filipino.”
One more time, just declare who owns you, who created you, and the purpose that He has for you.
Say this with me again:
So, how can we transform the world? God has callings for you. He has a special gift that He gave you. And He wants you to use that gift so that you can transform this world, and transform this country. What Jesus did was He gave special roles to different people.
Read with me
So, the five roles are: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.
Now, I want you to think about this very carefully. Out of all these five, I think the most confusing would be the word prophet. Because in almost all cultures in the world, the word prophet means somebody who can predict the future. In almost all cultures, that’s what it means—a Nostradamus, a Madam Auring. But in the Bible, it’s different. The word prophet does not mean somebody who can predict the future. The word prophet in the Bible is somebody who will speak about current events—but from a cosmic perspective.
So, for example, there are a lot of authors and preachers who will look at the book of Revelations and they will say this is about this guy that’s happening in Russia, and this is about what’s happening in Iraq, and this is what’s happening in the United Nations… And I say, No.
The author of the book of Revelations is talking about the current events in the First Century. But he was speaking about it from a cosmic perspective.
Now, why am I saying all that? “Bro. Bo, what is prophet, really in the Bible?”
He’s like the covenant watchdog.
He’s like the guy who says,
“You’ve made a covenant with God and I’m going to watch you. I’m going to tell you if you do not do your covenant…”
What Prophets Do
Think of the prophet Nathan who confronted King David. He was really good– Nathan.
You know, if he told David, “David, you committed adultery and you committed murder…”
He didn’t do it that way.
He said, “King David, let me tell you a story…
Once upon a time, there was this rich man who had a huge flock of sheep and goat. And then some guests came and he wanted to entertain them and feed them. But instead of getting one sheep from his own flock, from his own backyard, he goes to his neighbor, a poor guy, with only one lamb. And he grabs that lamb and feeds his guests.
King David was so angry, he said, “I am going to punish that guy!” Then the prophet– that’s why prophets, covenant watchdogs—tells
King David, “You are that guy. You got Bathsheba from Uriah. You killed him. You committed adultery.”
Think of John the Baptist. That’s another prophet. He goes to King Herod. And what does he say?
He says, “You’re committing adultery.”
What does King Herod do? Chops off his head. That’s what prophets do. They take stands and they suffer the consequences.
Now, I want you to know that in the Kingdom of God, you need both prophets and evangelists.
“Bro. Bo, you’ve explained what prophet is, you did not explain what’s an evangelist.”
What is an evangelist?
An evangelist is someone who welcomes sinners. And actually parties with them. So, they’re very, very different from the prophets.
The Kingdom of God needs both prophets and evangelists. But that’s where the conflict comes in. The conflict in community, the conflict in churches.
It’s when prophets want everyone to be prophets. And it’s when evangelists want everyone to be evangelists. When, in fact, God gave and distributed specific calls and specific gifts to everyone.
Conflict arises when the prophet tells the evangelist and the apostle, and the teacher, and the pastor, “You’re a coward. You have no spine.
Wala kang tindig. Take a stand. Masama na—there is evil. You’ve got to name evil. Pa-love the sinner, love the sinner ka pa.”
And then the evangelist says to the prophet, “Bakit ka laging galit? Do not bash people. Di ba ang ebanghelyo is about love?”
So, you have a conflict between the prophet and the evangelist— not realizing God gave specific gifts and calls to different people and that the
Kingdom of God needs both. You need both.
There are bishops who are prophets. From the pulpit, they will declare their stand—and it stings, there’s a solid punch. But how many of you also understand that not all bishops do that? There are bishops who actually like dialogue. And why? Again, you need both.
Be True to Your Call
I was 12 years old when I came to know Jesus. I started preaching and serving God when I was 13. We started the Light of Jesus, this
Community, when I was 14.
I led LOJ for 39 years. And I want you to know that in all those 39 years, I envied prophets. When I look at a prophet, I say to myself, “Oo nga. There’s something wrong with me. Ang tapang niya, o. Tapang talaga—He is so brave.”
You know, for 39 years of the Light of Jesus Community, not once did we ever come out with a statement about a national issue. Yung mga community— Couples for Christ, Ligaya (ng Panginoon) nagbibigay ng—giving– statement, written down, declarative: “This is what we stand for…”
For 39 years, we did not. And when people ask me, “Bro. Bo, parang tayo lang ang tahimik—we are the only ones silent. We need to say what we believe in about this issue, that issue.” And my answer is this: I tell them, “Ah, nagsalita na yung Simbahan, e— the Church spoke out already. ‘Yun na lang— let that be our statement. We don’t need to re-write it.”
So, I would wiggle my way out of it. You know, after 40-plus years of leadership, I’ve come to realize this– Dati, hindi ko tinatanggap– ngayon tinatanggap ko na: “I’m probably an apostle– because I pioneered the movement. I’m an evangelist for the unchurched. I’m a pastor to the flock. I’m a teacher— obvious ba?—to the spiritually hungry. But I’ve come to accept I’m not a prophet. I’m not. Prophets take stands. I’d rather that we take a walk and we talk.
That’s just me. My personality and my ability and competence. Am I wrong? No. Is the prophet wrong for taking stands? No. We both need prophets and evangelists in the body of Christ.
Recently, the leaders of the LOJ Community—I stepped down, by the way, two and a half years ago– the top leaders of the Community asked me, “Bro. Bo, we want to write a statement about the elections. Is that okay?”
I said, “I’m not the leader anymore. This is your call. If you believe this is what God wants you to do, you do it.”
And what they did was amazing. They listened as well as they could to all the leaders—national leaders, provincial leaders, Metro Manila leaders, international Feast leaders. They just asked them, “You know, tell us what you would want us to write in that statement.” And after listening to everybody, they wrote a beautiful statement. I just want you to know that I’m happy I’m no longer the leader—because there are better leaders now leading the Community.
How I Serve God Through Politics
The fact remains: people would compare, “Bro. Bo, buti pa yung ibang Community, nag-endorse nang candidates nila. Kayo hindi. Parang masyadong vague. Mas Mabuti sila—The other communities are better than us. They endorse a candidate. We don’t. We are so vague. They are better.”
I smile and say, “Welcome to the Catholic Church. Welcome to the Kingdom of God. Palagay ko yung community na ‘yun, maraming propeta—
I surmise that community has many prophets. Here, in our Community, there are many evangelists.”
That’s just it. But we all serve the King.
By the way, people also ask me this question: “Bro. Bo, bakit walang politics sa social media mo—why don’t you have politics on your social media? You don’t post anything about politics.”
Again, I explain, “If I post something on politics on social media, what I notice is that it does not invite conversation.
It invites a reaction. If I invite politics on my social media, what happens is
I tell you what I think. I don’t hear what you think. And as someone who is an evangelist, I don’t like that. I want conversation.
And so, what I do is, anywhere I go, I talk to the waiter, I talk to the driver, I talk to the neighbor, and I ask them, “Sino iboboto mo… Bakit naman—Who are you voting for. Why?”
Then, we share. And we have a conversation. Even if, at the end, we still disagree, it’s okay. You know why? In the end, magkaibigan kami—we are still friends. And that is somebody who is an evangelist.
And sometimes what we need to do is really ask ourselves, “What gift did God give me? What calling did God give me?” And say, “I’m going to respond to that. This is what I need to do.”
In this election season, I want you to respect each other’s political choices. But I also want you to respect each person’s calling from God. You are a Filipino citizen. Raise your hand if you are. You also are a Kingdom citizen. Raise your hand if you are.
As a Filipino citizen, you have to obey, you have to follow your President. Yes or no? Yes. Does your President know you? No, I don’t think so. For most of us—the President does not know me.
You are a Filipino citizen but you are a citizen of the Kingdom and the King of this Kingdom knows you. He does not only know you, He loves you. And He does not only love you, He died for you. And today, I want you to worship— worship is recognizing your loyalties. At the end of the day, you are loyal to the King. And so, I want you to worship Him. And worship is not just singing a bunch of songs. Worship is obedience. Worship is loyalty. Worship is surrender. Worship is coming before God, coming before the King of the Kingdom and saying, “Reporting for duty.” But you say it with a smile—because this King loves you and this King is committed to you, and this King, yes, he has all the five qualities that Audee was talking about when you choose a leader.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Lift your hands, and if this is comfortable posture for you, and just say this with all your heart:
My Jesus, my King, I am your follower and I submit my life to you. You made me Filipino for a purpose. You gave me gifts for a purpose. You called me, gave me a specific call, for a purpose.
Jesus, I submit my life to you. Thank You for loving me.”
Take this moment just to bask in the King’s love. Take this moment just to surrender yourself to the love that this King has for you. Get lost in that love. Immerse yourself in that love. And then, worship Him. Amen.