Chris' Corner -- Sunday, April 17, 2022
Citizenship has numerous advantages and privileges. Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship several times (Acts 16:37-38; 25:10-11). When the Roman guard took him into custody in Jerusalem, word got back to the officer in charge that Paul was a Roman. Luke's account says, "Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?" He said, "Yes." The commander answered, "With a large sum, I obtained this citizenship." And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen" (Acts 22:27,28).
Our nation is extremely divided over the issue of citizenship. Immigrants are coming into our country who want to be American citizens. Some go through the process legally to accomplish this end. However, tens of thousands are pouring into our country from the southern border every month. Our government is assisting them. These foreigners may be hoping to be granted legal citizenship without any effort. Others have come with ulterior motives for criminal activity.
The fundamental truth is—you are a citizen or you are not. You either are born an American, or you have fulfilled the legal requirements to receive the status of a US citizen. As a citizen, we are expected to follow the rules and regulations outlined in the law of the land and the US constitution. If you have not fulfilled these requirements, you are not a citizen—plain and simple. You are still a foreigner and alien.
Thanks be to God, who has given us a way to become a citizen of His heavenly kingdom. This is the most important and valuable citizenship we could ever hope for. It doesn't matter where we were born or where we now choose to live. We must decide whether or not we want to be a citizen by complying with God's laws on citizenship. By obeying the gospel, we are born into His great kingdom (John 3:3ff) and holy nation (1 Peter 2:9).
In Philippians 3:20, Paul said, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." Earlier, he wrote, "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27). The Greek word Paul used, translated here as "conduct," means "to be a citizen" or "to behave as a citizen; to avail oneself of or recognize the laws."
Before we were in God's kingdom, Paul described us as former aliens who are now citizens. This occurred when we complied with the laws God outlined in His word. "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God...in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19, 22).
Citizenship has numerous advantages and privileges. Members of God's household are blessed "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ...having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will...in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit " (Ephesians 1:3, 5).
Remember, citizens of God's kingdom are those who have done what was required of them to become a citizen. A newly sworn-in US citizen vows to uphold the laws of the land and the constitution. A new citizen of the heavenly kingdom pledges to continue to walk according to the law of Christ to remain a citizen in good standing (Hebrews 11:16; 12:22). "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit…" (Philippians 1:27).