WHERE IS YOUR CITIZENSHIP?
When you became a Christian, you took on a new citizenship. You no longer belong to this world. Your citizenship is now in the kingdom of heaven. The Apostle Paul made a comparison of non-Christians to Christians of his day in his statement in Philippians 3:19-20: “…whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
What does being a citizen of heaven require of us? It requires a change in values and priorities. It requires that we change our standards from what the world deems as necessary to the standards of our new king – Jesus Christ. It means that we live by a different set of rules. We find those rules in God’s Word. We are no longer guided by the principles of the world, but by God’s principles as given in the Word.
Our citizenship in heaven is a free gift. With that gift comes many privileges and opportunities. However, once we accept that we are citizens of heaven we must accept the important responsibilities that come with being a citizen of heaven. This means that before we step into that citizenship we must count the cost.
Our pattern, our roadmap, if you will, to knowing the cost and how to live as a citizen of heaven is, of course, Jesus himself. He is a perfect example of someone who lived as a citizen of heaven while in this world.
Just as Jesus was not of this world (John 8:23; 17:14, 16), He taught his disciples that neither are they of this world (15:19). People, such as the religious leaders, could not understand Jesus’ true citizenship, even though the kingdom of heaven was the object of much of His teaching. As He stood on trial before Pilate, He told him “My kingdom is not of this world. … My kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36).
As Christians, we are called to live in this world, and at the same time, understand, and live like we are, as Jesus said, citizens of another place.
Warren Wiersbe, a Christian author said, “Our sphere of life is not this earth, but heaven; and the things that attract us and excite us belong to heaven, not to earth.” As Abraham was called by God and made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country. … “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).
So, we have some questions to ponder:
Do you live in this world like a foreigner or a permanent resident with no hope of another better place of citizenship?
Are you living your life in “tents,” knowing at any time you will need to pull up the stakes and move on to your eternal home? Or, are you settled in, convinced that this world is all there is, and then you die?
Are you living in comfort here or in hope for your future home?
Surrendering our own desires so that we can carry out the will of our King is a huge part of living as a citizen of heaven. You may ask, “How do I know the will of God?” If we will allow it to be, the answer really is clear, although it may not always be easy. The answer is in Paul’s teaching to the church at Rome. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.” (Romans 12:2).
Surrender of the things the world offers, no longer conforming to its ways, and allowing your mind to be changed into a new way of thinking—a kingdom mindset—then God shows you his will for your life.
Romans 12:2 should be the go-to verse to help us with every decision we must make. It covers everything you do, everything that enters your mind, and every emotion that you feel. Let your decisions, your thoughts, your emotions, and actions be transformed to God’s ways rather than allowing them to conform to the world’s ways. This takes some effort on our part. It requires our full attention, as well as intention, along with very strict discipline, which will help you to know and understand God’s will.
A change in citizenship requires some changes. Again, it requires surrender of our own will to that of God’s will. It also requires that we accept new responsibilities. As a citizen of God’s kingdom, we have an important and vital role while we await our entrance into our eternal home. While we remain here in this world, he wants us to represent him as his ambassador. His Word has provided us with His message about His kingdom, and he wants us to tell everyone we know about it (see 2 Corinthians 5:16-21). This, of course, is not an option if we are citizens of heaven.