Summary: Uses self-proclaimed country of Sealand to discuss earthly vs heavenly kingdoms. Student ministry PowerPoint format.


Slide Graphic – picture of Prince Roy and Princess Joan in front of Sealand (see or search internet for Sealand images)

Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, "I have become a stranger in a strange land." (Exodus 2:22)

In England, most radio and television stations are run by the government-operated British Broadcasting Service (the BBC). There are some independent stations today, but 40 years ago, the BBC ruled the airwaves alone in England. In 1965, a free-spirit named Roy Bates, decided to set up his own, independent, illegal, pirate alternative – Radio Essex. Operating a radio transmitter on English soil was clearly against the law, and he was quickly arrested and fined £100.

Not willing to give up his radio voice, Mr. Bates moved his operation offshore. England’s territorial waters at the time extended only 3 miles off the coastline. Roy Bates, once a commercial fisherman, knew of an old abandoned fort six miles off the coast, just far enough to lie within international waters. Rough’s tower, as it was known, was a military platform built during WWII to protect the Thames Estuary – the harbor at the mouth of the Thames river, where large and vulnerable convoys of shipping were assembled. It housed up to 200 men, and had a helipad. These sea forts were equipped with radar and heavy armaments, and housed enough troops to man and maintain artillery designed to shoot down German aircraft and missiles. The fort, built on a barge which was later intentionally sunk, was originally intended to be built within English waters, but was moved to it’s current location at the last minute to take advantage of shallow waters in the area. After the war, the platform had been abandoned and had lain derelict ever since. Roy set up his radio station on Rough’s Tower, safely in international waters, and broadcast his own brand of entertainment over much of England.

Were this all there was to the story, it would still be quite interesting, but what happened next makes it truly epic. In 1967, realizing that his home was in international waters claimed by no country, Roy Bates decided that he could, in fact, claim it as his own sovereign realm. He and his wife Joan declared the tower to be the “Principality of Sealand,” and a independent country. They crafted a constitution, named themselves Prince Roy and Princess Joan of Sealand, and swore loyalty to their new country, using their newly created flag and national anthem.

Sealand offered to join the coalition of nations supporting both the first and second Gulf Wars, and issued statements of condolences and offers of assistance to the United States after 9/11. In 2003, Sealand also appointed its first official athlete - Darren Blackburn of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Blackburn has represented the Principality at a number of sporting events, including marathons and off-trail races.


Slide Graphic – map of sealand, sealand stamps, currency, etc.

By late 1968, the British navy had become aware of the new situation and dispatched a naval cruiser to quietly resolve the situation. Prince Roy took exception to this invasion of his territorial waters and fired warning shots – basically plinking the side of the naval warship with a shotgun loaded with bird shot. Since Prince Roy was still an English citizen, he was accused of several serious crimes against England and was summoned to a British court. In this widely publicized lawsuit, the court decided that it could not exert any jurisdiction outside of British national territory, which many interpret as the first de facto recognition of the Principality of Sealand. English law had ruled that Sealand was not part of the United Kingdom, nor did any other nation claim it, hence Prince Roy’s declaration of a new Sovereign State was upheld. Prince Roy has been called to British courts several times since to face charges ranging from more incidents between his shotgun and British warships to not paying taxes. In each case the Court ruled that they had no jurisdiction in international waters, strengthening Sealand’s claim to statehood. A well-recognized international precedent known as the Montevideo Convention states that one test of the legitimacy of a nation is when it is recognized by other states. England, by specifically NOT claiming it, was recognizing it.

Prince Roy now claimed Sealand as his own based on de jure (based on law – because the fort was abandoned in international waters) and de facto (based on facts – recognition by other states) precedent.

What would you do with a country of your own. What laws would you pass?

Sealand instituted an international ferry service consisting of a rubber Zodiac. In order to board the Sealand vessel at the dock in England, you had to present your Sealand passport and submit to customs inspection. Smoking and swearing were both subject to banishment, as was taking more than three five-minute showers per week. Sealand printed international postage stamps and used them to post letters in England, which the British postal service subsequently delivered, again recognizing Sealand’s existence and rights.

But dark days soon fell on the brave new country…


Slide graphic – Sealand from above, in tide surge with wake. Prince Roy in helecopter

In August of 1978, a number of Dutch men invited Roy to continental Europe. It was later found that the men represented organized crime families interested in the possibilities of owning a country beyond the reach of other nations. They stated their purpose was to discuss the possibilities of paying Prince Roy a large amount of money to relinquish Sealand to their control. Roy left Sealand under the control of his Prime Minister (the German night shift disc jockey, who was later discovered to be in league with the Dutch criminals. While Roy was away in Britain, armed men boarded Sealand and staged a coupe, imprisoning Prince Roy’s son the His Royal Highness Prince Michael in the toilet. Prince Roy became suspicious of the delaying tactics employed by the “business men” and returned to his country. Discovering what had happened, Prince Roy declared war on both Germany and the Netherlands, went back to Europe and hired a mercenary unit, and led the helicopter assault to retake his country. They were quite successful. No lives were lost, and the traiters were declared prisoners of war and imprisoned.

During the time that he held the prisoners, the Governments of the Netherlands and Germany petitioned for their release. First they asked England to intervene in the matter, but the British government cited their earlier court decision as evidence that they made no claim to the territory of Sealand. Then, in the most definitive recognition of Sealand’s sovereignty, Germany sent a diplomat directly to Sealand to negotiate for the release of their citizen.

Roy first released the Dutch citizens, as the war was over, and the Geneva Convention requires the release of all prisoners. The German disc jockey was held longer, as he had accepted a Sealand Passport, and therefore was guilty of treason, but was later released as well. He claims to this day that his government was entirely legal, and now claims to be the ruler in exile of Sealand, living in Spain.

On 1 October, 1987, Britain extended its territorial waters from 3 to 12 nautical miles. The previous day, Prince Roy declared the extension of Sealand’s territorial waters to be a like 12 nautical miles, so that right of way from the open sea to Sealand would not be blocked by British claimed waters. No treaty has been signed between Britain and Sealand to divide up the overlapping areas, but a general policy of dividing the area between the two countries down the middle can be assumed. International law does not allow the claim of new land during the extension of sea rights, so Sealand’s sovereignty was safely "grandfathered" in. Britain has no more right to Sealand’s territory than Sealand has to the territory of the British coastline that falls within its claimed 12 nautical mile arc.

In 1997, forged Sealand passports started tuning up around the world. Some of these were used to open bank accounts under false names in various countries. Since few people have ever seen a legitimate Sealand passport (less than 300 exist today) it was difficult for these to be easily detected as forgeries. The source of these forgeries was traced back to the same German disc jockey who was involved in the earlier attempt to take Sealand by force. His Minister of Finance had created a fake Sealand Business Foundation and boasts that he has sold over 150 000 fake Sealand Passports to all comers. Thus there are now unfortunately 500 times more forged Sealand Passports in circulation than real ones. Many of the forged passports were apparently sold to people leaving Hong Kong at the time of Chinese reoccupation for USD 1 000 each. These passports, which were not authorized by the Bates family, were involved in several high-profile crimes, including the murder of Gianni Versace.

Whilst Sealand has been the pride and joy of Prince Roy and his family for well over 30 years, his recent poor health has caused him fundamentally to review the arrangements which have been in place for decades and to look to the future of his Principality. Consequently, his son Prince Michael was appointed Prince Regent as Sovereign pro tempore by Royal Decree in 1999. Since that time, the Royal Family has struck a deal with HavenCo Limited, and that company now leases exclusively its offices in Sealand, where it offers, and is able to offer, unparalleled security and independence to users who wish to take advantage of its Internet services. The presence of an active and rapidly growing high-tech internet industry in Sealand has changed the character of the Principality; once more, Sealand rings with the sound of voices, boasts regular support ferry services, and is host to a growing and dynamic population.


Slide Graphic – sun rising over horizon. Two verses:

5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7So if you worship me, it will all be yours."

8Jesus answered, "It is written: ’Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’"

Luke 4:5-8

20Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21nor will people say, ’Here it is,’ or ’There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you."

Luke 17:20-21

The point of all this? Roy Bates is an extreme example of a man who set up a kingdom for himself here on earth. As cool as that sounds, the Bible tells us that we have a kingdom in Heaven. We are citizens of that country, not this. We are just strangers here.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Satan, who has been given control of all the kingdoms of the world, offered a choice to Jesus. Like we’ve been stressing for weeks now, God himself gave us the same choice. The choice Adam and Eve were given in the Garden. Serve God with no thought for ourselves, or live for our own pleasures and desires. Jesus’ response to Satan was that he chose to serve God.

We all face this same choice. That’s what Jesus is referring to in Luke 17 when he says that the kingdom of God is within you. You don’t reach the kingdom of God by going someplace or doing some thing – you reach it by choosing, on the inside, to give up living for yourself and turn your life over to Christ.

How then should we live? Mark 12:28-34 tells us: Not by doing (burnt offerings and sacrifices), but by living a life of passionate love for Christ.

28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: ’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these."

32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.


Slide graphic – baby with huge eyes – alien looking

Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying,

"I have become a stranger in a strange land."

Exodus 2:22

When I was growing up, my father was in the Army Corps of Engineers. We lived in Panama, Korea, Costa Rica, and Japan. As an adult, my job has taken me to Bolivia, Mexico, Curacao, and Russia. In all of these places, I easily stood out as a stranger. No one would have mistaken me for a native.

When I and a partner from Venezuela were in Bolivia on a business trip, we were the only ones over 4 foot 6 inches we saw in that country. I felt like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians. I was the only one with white skin. I was the only one without black hair. I was the only one who did not speak Spanish. I made people curious. More people stared at me than usual. Everyone new I wasn’t from around those parts – I was a stranger in their country.

Moses was a stranger among the nomads of the Sinai peninsula. Even when he married into the tribe, he felt out of place. When his son was born, he named him Gershom, which means “the alien” – a name that would have gone over about as well then as it would now. Can you imagine if your parents named you “the alien”?

Do you think that would be bad? Would you like to be called “the alien”? Actually, the Bible says that God, your heavenly father, named you “the alien”.

As the great German Reformer Martin Luther rightly observed, we Christians live in two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. But our primary citizenship is in the kingdom of God. We are resident aliens here, strangers and pilgrims. Our job? Live as citizens of that kingdom. Order the manner of your life after the customs and commands of that kingdom.

We are to live counter-culturally. We should not be ashamed to be different:

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes,” Paul says in Romans 1:16


Slide graphic – one red tulip in a field of yellow ones – standing out. Verses:

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 Peter 2:11-12

I want to look this week at a passage in 1 Peter chapter 2, where Peter is addressing just this subject – If we are not part of this world, then “How should we live?”

First, Peter tells us that our lives should cause even those who oppose us to be curious. We should stand out from the crowd. It should be obvious that we are strangers in the land. People should be able to easily detect that we are strange and different. If they see no difference in us, why would they have any interest in learning more about Jesus in our lives, much less want to be like us.

An ancient legend is told about a monk who found a precious stone, a precious jewel, in fact, and then quietly kept it in his bag. A short time later, however, he met a traveler, who said he was hungry and asked the monk if he would share some of the provisions. When the monk opened his bag, the traveler saw the precious stone and, on an impulse, asked the monk if he could have it. Amazingly, without much thought, the monk gave the traveler the stone.

The traveler departed quickly, overjoyed with his new possession. However, a few days later, he came searching for the monk again. (The monk was, of course, was both curious to see the traveler again, wondering what might have happened to the precious jewel, and frowning at what else the traveler would want.) Surprisingly, the traveler returned the stone to the monk and asked for something else. The monk gasped and shook his head in disbelief. What else would he have that the traveler would be interested to have? Finally the traveler said, "Please give me that which enabled to you to give me this precious stone!“

People should want what we have – not our worldly possessions, but what we have on the inside – what makes us different from the crowd.


Slide graphic – standing out from the crowd – two people in color against a crowd of black and white. Verse:

15For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men…

19For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (1 Peter 2:15,19-20)

In Peter’s time the new Christian churches were being accused of everything from cannibalism (the Lord’s supper), to incest (loving your brother and sister in Christ) as a part of the church’s worship. Peter understood that no matter what Christians did, there would be malicious slander against them. His Spirit inspired instruction to them is that they live such exemplary lives that their accusers and not the Christians would be ashamed.

Think about Mother Theresa or Billy Graham. What would a person who tried to discredit them look like? We should be different from the world – but different in such a way that when we are accused of living like the world, no one would believe it. The world wants to prove that we are just like them – that the power of Christ does not change lives. When Billy Graham travels, he has to have a man on his team go into his hotel room first and make sure it is empty, because many times people have hired prostitutes to hide in his room so that a misleading photograph can be taken of him. Billy Graham is not perfect – he is just human. He struggles every day trying to live a life that Christ would approve of, and by his own admission, he often fails. But there are people in this world who don’t wish him to succeed. Every moment Billy Graham lives a transformed life, every moment that you live a transformed life, is an accusation to them – proof that their lives are not transformed.

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:14-15).


Slide graphic – standing out again. One colored umbrella in a sea of black ones. Verse:

21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22"He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." 23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:21)

Christ Himself is our ultimate example in living as aliens and strangers. Did He suffer? Yes. Did He demand his rights and scream that He was unjustly accused? No - instead he willingly gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins so that all who trust in Him for salvation might be set free from sin and receive His gift of eternal life.

Now He asks us to be willing to give up a life of living for ourselves, and live for him instead so that the good news about Him might be heard, might be shown to the world.

He showed us the way to live. Although we are not of this world, we are to love the people of this world. Love them so much that they are drawn to us – to the source of our love – Christ.

I want to have that something which made Christ love me enough to die for me. And as you and I copy Christ in laying down our rights, laying down our lives for others, they will come to us, wanting in their lives the one who enables us to live that way.

J.D. Salinger said “An immature man is willing to die for a noble cause. A mature man is also willing to live humbly for one.” Some of us may well be asked one day to lay down our lives – but all of us are asked to lay down our selves.


Slide graphic – Jesus on throne in heaven wearing crown. Verse:

36Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

37"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.

Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

(John 18)

Jesus says that there are those who serve themselves, and those who have given their allegiance to God. Jesus didn’t come to earth to set up a kingdom here, he came to show us the way to his kingdom – the way back home. Those who understand the truth of what he is saying and choose to live by that truth will join him in that kingdom. Not as servants, but as joint-heirs – princes and princesses.

What was this “truth” that Jesus came to tell us? This passage occurs at the trial at the very end of his life. Moments from now he would be whipped and beaten, then crucified. In the middle of all this, he says that the only reason he was born and lived among us was to tell us the truth. What truth?

Jesus came to tell us that there is something very wrong with the world and with us. It is wrong because we have chosen to separate ourselves from God. Adam and eve were given a choice – to obey God regardless of the cost (the tree of life) or choose to live our lives for ourselves (the tree of knowledge of good and evil). Mankind chose not to place ourselves under God’s rule and obey him regardless of the cost. Instead, we would choose what was best for us – we would control our own destiny. Because we separated ourselves from God, we must die. Instead of allowing that, though, God loved us so much that he sent Christ to die in our place. Christ restored us. Now, though, we face that same choice again – to live for God or to live for ourselves.

What was the truth Christ came to tell – that we must choose to give God control of our lives. He must be our lord. We must swear allegiance to him and serve him. Then, we belong to his kingdom.

The Kingdom of Christ is much cooler than Sealand. Much better than anything we could build for ourselves here on earth. There is no comparison. Stand up today, if you haven’t already, and make your choice. Choose to serve God.

When the people of Israel left Egypt and were told to enter the land of Canaan, they refused. Instead of obeying what God told them to do and following his path, they decided that they knew best what to do with their lives. Because they chose poorly, God let them wander in the wilderness until all who had chose badly died. Death is always the punishment for living for yourself instead of God. The only ones who lived through this were the ones who had voted to obey God and the children who were too young to choose (which is where we get our doctrine of the “age of accountability”).


Slide graphic – video trailer for “Return of the King”

There was a book named “The Lord of the Rings” that was made into a movie recently. It wasn’t a Biblical or Christ-centered novel – but it is spiritual, nonetheless. The author, J.R.R. Tolkein, was a great story-teller, and like all the best story-tellers, he understood the human condition – the hole each of us have in our hearts – we all want to be part of something larger than ourselves.

Somehow, inside all of us, we know in our bones that

• We are at war with a great evil

• The evil is far more powerful than you or I

• Our king will return to claim his throne – the throne that has been empty

• It is not strength or arm, but strength of character that will make the difference

• We should not give up courage

• We may die ourselves, but that is OK if we are playing a part in destroying evil and restoring the kingdom

Tolkein appealed to those holes by very intentionally using metaphors of many biblical themes. Take a look at this trailer with that in mind and see if you can find the parallels he used.


Slide graphic – Normal Rockwell painting of family around Thanksgiving table. Verses:

So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

Joel 3:17

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

Eph. 2:12

You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household

Eph. 2:19

Why don’t some people enjoy being in church for worship? One answer is that these people sense that in a church where people really worship God, it is they who are strangers and we who are at home. We are at home in church, where the Bible tells us that our God dwells among us, "I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain."

Some people eagerly get up on Sunday go to a place where their king is honored and worshiped – a place that feels like home – it reminds them of the country where they owe their allegiance. Other people drag themselves out of bed to “go to church.” The day is coming when "Jerusalem will be holy, and there shall no stranger pass through her any more."

Our hearts should go out to these "strangers", because we were once strangers ourselves.

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (Eph. 2:12)

Wouldn’t it be a great thing to have these strangers get to know our King, come to love our country and decide to change their citizenship? They they could also say

You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household (Eph. 2:19).

When we all go home to our country, there won’t be any more “going to church", because "there shall no strangers pass through her any more."

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)