Have you ever thought about the value of your citizenship?
Alice William is our guest blogger this week with a post about what it means to be citizens of heaven, and the many benefits that come with such a title.
This post is part of the Heading Home Together series in celebration of the upcoming release of my memoir, A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging.
A Place to Land releases April 1, 2018, but you can read the first chapter for free now!
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Here’s my friend Alice:
Having lived most of my life in India, where I was born and where I am a citizen, the word “citizenship” was not on my radar. But when I moved to the United States, everything changed. Every paperwork where I checked the box “Resident Alien” became a constant reminder that I live in a place where I am not a citizen.
There are duties and responsibilities for every citizen — but there are certain rights and privileges of being a citizen as well. Around the first century, Roman citizenship was highly recognized and honored. Paul was a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:28). The rights of Roman citizenship were extensive, ranging from buying and selling to appealing to Caesar in person and having a fair trial. Citizen or not, everyone under the Roman authority understood its value.
Which is why, when Paul says, “for our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), he knew he was speaking to everyone. Whether a Roman citizen or an alien, they understood the significance of Roman citizenship. They experienced it firsthand in their daily lives.
But earthly citizenship, like any other system, is flawed, fragile, and temporal. If we have come to regard this highly, how much more valuable is our heavenly citizenship?
Here are a few reasons why being citizens of heaven is all that matters:
Because of God’s promise of eternal life and citizenship, we have a living hope. Christian hope is a life of knowing God and His faithfulness. Our hope is in the life eternal (Titus 1:2). Hope is worked out in our lives by patience, perseverance, and remaining faithful to the truth.
Life is so full of challenges, miseries, trials, and heartaches. But we press on, hoping that one day we will go to a place where there are no more tears! When sinful thoughts entice us and cause us to stumble, we look at Hope and we say no to sin. Because this sinful pleasure is temporary, and our hope is eternal.
“… but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
Heavenly citizenship offers us a hope that helps us say no to sin.
One in Christ
The spectacular thing about being citizens of heaven is that it is for all. On earth, language, color, ethnicity, class, culture, and many more by the day disconnects us. But through faith in Christ, we are all called children of God. “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26).
Paul addressed a serious divide of that day, the Jews and the gentiles. It was incomprehensible for them to overcome that barrier. But Christ did it. No more separation. We are all one in Christ. We experience a reflection of that image in the church. But in Heaven, we will share the same citizenship. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).
Whether you have a permanent place to call your home or not.
Whether you have to check the box marked “Alien” or “Citizen.”
Whether you have a huge savings account or live paycheck-to-paycheck.
Eternal view is of the essence. Jesus focused on the “heavenly” in His teachings. “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).
This part is easier said than done. Worry and fear come naturally to us. But an eternal outlook is what God recommends. That’s why we need grace, so much grace! “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).
God’s promises and presence in this world provide strength to wade through this life here on earth. His grace and mercy have purchased us a place in eternity where we can spend the rest of our future with Him.
The words of this song helps me take my eyes off of this world and focus on heaven:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Heavenly citizenship affords the luxury of taking our eyes off of this world and setting them upon Jesus.
When you put 8,000 miles between you and your home, nothing is permanent. Compare this distance to heaven. Then you will begin to understand the temporal nature of life and the urgency to live for the eternal. Because wherever you belong here on earth fades in comparison with our place in Heaven.
Have you secured your heavenly citizenship?
This post is part of the Heading Home Together blog series.
To read more posts in this series, click here.
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