Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

I Pledge Allegiance to Luxembourg

Written by: on October 13, 2023

Before sunrise on May 16, 2023 I boarded an Alaska Airlines flight from Portland (PDX) to San Francisco (SFO). I got on a return flight later that evening. I only needed to be in San Francisco for approximately 2 hours, but decided to make “a day of it.” I had a singular meeting at 2 pm at the Consulate of The Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. In fairness, I wasn’t meeting with the Grand Duchy personally, although his photo was on the wall, and he had visited the Consulate a few weeks prior. I was meeting with a Sworn Consult Officer in order to finalize becoming a Dual-Citizen of Luxembourg.

It’s a long story, and I won’t bore you with all the details. Suffice it to say, my family tree has long roots, unbroken through male lineage, in Luxembourg, and I/we were made aware of a process called “Heritage Reclamation” and actively took the necessary, albeit laborious, steps to become dual-citizens. Who doesn’t want to have multiple passports of varying colors (I’m looking at you Jason Bourne!)?  Honestly, I felt very Jason Bourne as I used my Luxembourg passport to and from London/Oxford!

With this as my current backdrop, I read Francis Fukuyama’s “Identity” with delight and a sense of bifurcation, as an American AND Luxembourg citizen. Fukuyama says, “Dual citizenship has become increasingly widespread today as migration levels have increased. For many people who travel or have family in different countries, having multiple passports is a great convenience. But if one takes national identity seriously, it is a rather questionable practice. Different nations have different identities and different interests that engender potentially conflicting allegiances” (pg. 168). Fukuyama expounds upon some of those potential conflicts:  military service, immigration, creedal identity, political priorities, etc.

Admittedly, I am not too worried about America going to war against Luxembourg, which is about the size of Rhode Island, and yet, history has shown us that such things have happened, and very well could happen again.

As the EU continues to wrestle with its collective identity, its younger cousin America finds itself in an ongoing struggle with its identity. Fukuyama asserts that, having broke with early versions of identity based upon race, ethnicity and religion, “Americans can be proud of this very substantive identity; it is based on belief in the common political principles of constitutionalism, the rule of law, democratic accountability, and the principle that ‘all men are created equal’ (now interpreted to include all women)” (pg. 158). Of course, each of these identity commonalities have seriously been brought into question, and are increasingly problematic because of varied interpretations of said “commonalities.”

This is where dignity “forked in two directions..toward a liberal individualism…and toward collective identities that could be defined by either nation or religion” (pg. 91). It would be far too simplistic and reductionist to categorize these as “left and right,” and yet (here I go…) on the “left” is the general argument that the United States is too diverse to have a national identity, thus the liberal individualism. Whereas the “right” seems to have retreated into a collective identity of race (nation) and religion.

One could see the lines of demarcation growing more and more pronounced during the most recent US presidential elections, pandemic, racial unrest, and overall political/cultural posturing. The pressure was on to pick a tribe, join a team, wear your colors, learn the language, and use the secret handshake. This put many people, especially dual citizens, in an untenable position of having to live a lie, feel alienation and anxiety, and/or align themselves with that which they simple do not resonate with.

Most importantly, the “dual citizens” I am referring to are those that are citizens of an Earthly country (ie: USA, Britain, etc), and that of the Kingdom of God. It is my personal belief that as a follower of Jesus I am first and foremost a citizen of God’s Kingdom, and secondarily of the United States of America, and, now, of Luxembourg. In that order.

Let me repeat:  in that order. Kingdom first. And as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, I hold to the recognition of everyone’s equal worth and dignity. Period. It’s not dependent upon where one lives, how one voted, relational status, sexual identity, economic worth, if you wore a mask or didn’t, etc. etc. etc. Now, having said that, I agree with Fukuyama when he said, “We cannot get away from identity or identity politics” (pg. 163), however, moving forward, I believe followers of Jesus can and must do a better job of elevating the Kingdom of God (which, by the way, is NOT a physical Kingdom of dominance!), as modeled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, recorded in the Gospels, and taught in the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus himself.

My prayer is that followers of Jesus, as we rapidly approach another potentially divisive and resentful US election in 2024, seek to be people of peace, grace, unity and love for the other.

Oh, and if this doesn’t happen my wife and I will be moving to Luxembourg!

About the Author


John Fehlen

John Fehlen is currently the Lead Pastor of West Salem Foursquare Church. Prior to that he served at churches in Washington and California. A graduate of Life Pacific University in San Dimas, CA in Pastoral Ministry, and Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA with a Masters in Leadership and Spirituality. He and his wife Denise have four grown children and four grandchildren. John is the author of “Intentional Impressions," a book for fathers and their sons, "Don't Give Up: Encouragement for Weary Souls in Challenging Times," a book for pastoral leaders, and "The Way I See You," a children's book. You can connect with John on Instagram (@johnfehlen) as well as on his blog (johnfehlen.com).

9 responses to “I Pledge Allegiance to Luxembourg”

  1. Esther Edwards says:

    Luxembourg! Who knew? It is not a country that you often hear of, but I remember flying into Luxembourg with my family to drive to Germany when I was in 6th grade. I’m sorry to say it did not leave as great of an impression on my young memory as the Swiss Alps but when I see pictures now, it seems beautiful!

    As you mentioned dual citizenship I thought of several families that visited our church just recently that moved here simply to have their children born so they could claim dual citizenship. Their goal is to have their children come here to study when they are old enough. We take education for granted but it is highly sought after in other parts of the world. Since we moved here to Northern Va where the world is literally at our doorstep, the thought of national identity intrigues me. We are less and less globally divided by race, but rather becoming more integrated through travel and relocation. I wonder how that will affect cultural dynamics 5-10 generations down the line. It is, certainly, a picture of what heaven will be like, but I’m sure with much more unity, acceptance, and dignity extended.

    • mm John Fehlen says:

      Esther, your reply made me think of our grandchildren. At the beginning of September they moved (obviously with their parents) to Graz, Austria, as missionaries with Foursquare Missions. They bought a one-way ticket, and don’t know when they will be “home” again.

      For the last couple years, our grandkids have been in a dual-language school in Los Angeles. They have been learning German, and now that they are living in Austria they are major steps ahead in terms of language development.

      All that to say: they have been (since birth) immersed in global thinking and living. They were in a multi-ethic church in LA, lived in a global city, learned another language and now life overseas. I couldn’t have imagined this for my wife and I, having grown up in Wisconsin and Illinois and having never been on a plane until college or out of the country until our late-20’s.

      I am convinced they (our grandkids) will have a greater sense of human dignity, value for all ethnicities, etc than I ever had growing up in the Midwest in the late 70’s/ early 80’s. I’m so thankful for that!

  2. mm Pam Lau says:

    I appreciate your emphasis on the Kingdom of God first for all people regardless of their “identity” markers of which we lean so heavily upon today.

    What might it look like for followers of Jesus to help deescalate the anger and frustration surrounding the demand for dignity and identity that Fukuyama presents?

    • mm John Fehlen says:


      In my opinion: Christians are called to be “people of peace.” We ought to look, act, respond, and behave way different than “the world.” This is especially true when it comes to issues of respect and dignity for all people. That should be, as Patrick Lencioni calls it, “permission to play” – which means it is simply baseline and ought to be common sense. Unfortunately, that cannot be trusted nor assumed any longer in the modern church.

      Pam, let’s change that! OK….I’ll start, then you join me. Let’s [re]start a love revolution!

  3. mm Russell Chun says:

    Hi John,

    You are now officially my favorite Luxembourgan? Luxembourger? Luxembourgian?

    Well you know what I mean. Two of my children are dual citizens, U.S. and Hungarian. I let the Hungarian passports expire and choose the identity for my kids. My other daughter can prove that she was born in Turkey and could start her claim on citizenship, but I choose otherwise for from the get go. I chose for all of them, (for better or worse) to identify as U.S. Citizens.

    As far as Hungary is concerned, my kids have to pay back taxes. I choose to ignore them.

    Do you have to pay taxes? Does your new identity come with a taxable cost?

    The cost of identity…I had not thought about it till now. The cost of a Christian identity means we are willing to be martyred for our faith. Wow. Talk about self emptying.

    I will continue to ponder this…thanks for your post.


    • mm John Fehlen says:

      In response to your question: when I began the process of “reclamation” I was under the impression that we had to only do TWO things:
      1. Pay taxes.
      2. Vote in elections.

      The further I got into the process, I determined that I/we needed to do neither of those things. We don’t have to do anything. Which leads me to ponder: what if “identification” with the Kingdom of God “bar” has been set TOO LOW? What there is nothing we have to do, which means anyone can claim the title of “Christian” without necessarily having to do anything to warrant that title. Hmm…

      • mm Russell Chun says:

        The question of Christian persecution comes to mind. Prayerfully, it won’t happen in my children’s life time, but depending on what version of Revelation interpretation you read (plus the fictional stuff), Christian Martyrdom is going to happen. I have a lady friend working in Kurdistan. Her faith is a beacon of faith. She also has a target on her back.

        As the cycle (no cyclone) of violence continues. I have not doubt there will be a cost for our faith.

      • Jennifer Vernam says:

        This line of discussion made me think about the concepts from last year regarding fast and slow thinking. Do you agree that as citizen’s of Christ’s kingdom, we have created mental short cuts of where the bar should be? It seems like often, our shortcut thinking associates a political position with our Christian identity. It seems we have folded many things into our mental model of what good citizen of Christianity looks like. Like Activism, or Patriotism, or fill-in-the-blank. Agree?

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