Our Precious Citizenships
Do we all deeply understand that our primary citizenship is in heaven? I certainly believe that, love that, acknowledge that, and teach that. The KJV says “our conversation is in heaven” – but just about every other translation says “citizenship”.
Philippians 3:20 – “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,…”
And in the prior verse Paul reminds us not to overly focus on earthly things, for – as he teaches in Colossians 3:1-2, we should SET our minds on things above, and not on the earth. So my heavenly calling is my priority, but neither does that mean I ignore my duties and responsibilities here on earth!
We’re also reminded that we need to remember we are “pilgrims and sojourners” upon the earth, as Abraham and his descendants realized, awaiting a city whose builder and maker is God. All that’s in Hebrews 11:13 as well as 1 Peter 2:11. So I’m very, very aware of these scriptures.
I get all that. But one thing I feel a lot of believers “don’t get” is that Paul, who said his citizenship is in heaven, was more than happy to USE his Roman citizenship when it benefited him. We should be of the same mind. We are actually – according to Paul’s EXAMPLE – DUAL citizens.
I am a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem – AS WELL as a citizen of the United States. I was BORN a US citizen. That is something that billions of people would love to be able to say.
And so many pregnant women from other countries come to America just to have their baby born here in the USA so that baby – according to USA law – is automatically for life, a U.S. citizen. And you, dear believer, as a citizen of heaven if you have God’s holy spirit inside you – are also a citizen of your beloved country.
Just because we are now citizens of heaven does not mean we no longer prize our earthly citizenship as well.
I’d like you all to read the whole section of scripture where Paul was arrested and was about to be flogged mercilessly by Roman lictors (where we get the expression “he got a lickin’”). Read Acts 22:22-29. But it was illegal to scourge a Roman citizen without him first having a chance in court to explain his side of things. Paul is a citizen of heaven – and is about to be whipped. So does he ignore his rights as a Roman citizen, or does he prize it? The answer to this is my point!
Acts 22:25-29 --- And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?"
26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, "Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman."
27 Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?"
He said, "Yes."
28 The commander answered, "With a large sum I obtained this citizenship."
And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen."
29 Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.”
I am writing this up because some of you refuse to follow Paul’s example of USING his Roman citizenship rights – even while professing and claiming his heavenly Jerusalem citizenship to believers. Paul used it here and it kept him from being flogged mercilessly – and he used it again when he appealed to Caesar. That was basically the same as using his rights as a Roman citizen to appeal to what we nowadays would call appealing to the US Supreme Court. You can read of it in Acts 25:10-12.
We shall all be JUDGED according to what we’ve been given. We’ve been given our earthly citizenship among other things. USE your citizenship rights.
Having and being given US citizenship is extremely valuable. We will be judged on how we use and prize this gift from God – like any and all other gifts God gave us.
So yes, I write and call my Representative and Senators on the issues that concern me. I vote in US elections – because, as I explained in my sermon on voting, though God is said to be the one who puts people into office (Romans 13:1-2), neither is God always approving of what we mankind do (Hosea 8:4 –“they set up kings, but NOT BY ME; they appointed princes, but I did not acknowledge them…”.) Also see 1 Samuel 8:1-10, where God clearly was not in favor of them choosing human kings, but God ALLOWED IT.
If you won’t vote, how can you ever do or say anything about what is happening in our or your country? You would have no right to ever complain; that’s for certain.
God used men – and politics – to start our country, to frame our cherished Constitution, to establish our laws and freedoms. Without their meetings and all they did, we would have no USA today. So many in leadership are corrupt, but what’s new? God still used leaders all through time, whether they were part of Israel or not.
God gives us free choice, free moral agency. He allows us to have our wishes a lot of times, yes – even when it could be against his preferences or his will. And when we don’t care enough to vote AGAINST those who are killing our babies in the womb and vote FOR those who are for stopping that slaughter – what is God to think of us? When we CAN do something about atrocities, God expects us to DO and SAY what we can.
When one side is against law and order and is for defunding the police, is FOR open borders, is for higher taxes and on and on – should we not stand up, show up, and speak up by using our God-given citizenship?
PAUL DID. I do. I value my citizenship too much to ignore it. I will be judged by God if I value it and use it, or just ignore it.
In the meantime, I praise and honor my King for my citizenship in heaven too. Like Paul, like Abraham, like Isaac and Jacob – I realize I’m a sojourner in a way, but in another way, God has allowed me to use my valuable USA citizenship too.
I thank God I have DUAL citizenship, with my primary citizenship being the one in heaven. And like Paul, I don’t hesitate to claim US Citizenship as well – and to use it. So I also Praise Elohim, our wonderful God in heaven, for the wonderful gift of US Citizenship as well. I will neither diminish it nor ignore it. I use it, value it, and praise Him for it – even as I KNOW that my primary citizenship is in the Kingdom of Heaven.
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