I like the notion of citizenship. There is something comforting about the concept of belonging. Citizenship makes us part of a much bigger family, and there’s a safety in being part of a group-a sense of security in knowing that we’re not alone in this world.
God likes the idea of citizenship, too. In fact, the Bible tells us that He has a much bigger view of what it means to belong. The Apostle Paul, who was quite appreciative of his Roman citizenship, wrote these words:
But whatever happens to me, you must live in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ, as citizens of heaven . . . but we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”
Philippians 1:27, 3:30
Although we can catch a glimpse of what citizenship is about while we are here on earth, it definitely has its limitations this side of Heaven. The most noticeable is the division that it can cause with people from other places. Someone who is a citizen here might not like someone else because they are a citizen there. In fact, throughout history these simple differences alone have been the only spark necessary for strife, separation, and even battles to break out.
Earthly citizenship also means I can’t have complete freedom to relate to others. There are language barriers, cultural differences, and even physical distances that cause division of peoples. Yet this is not true for those who choose to accept God’s offer to become part of His forever family. Look at this beautiful passage about the promise for those faithful followers of the Lord:
All these faithful ones . . . agreed that they were no more than foreigners and nomads here on earth. And obviously people who talk like that are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had meant the country they came from, they would have found a way to go back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. For he has prepared a heavenly city for them.
Maybe that’s why we don’t feel as comfortable here as we’d like to be. Once we decide to follow the Lord, our heart begins to long for our “heavenly homeland.” While we can and should enjoy the life God has given us here on earth (see John 10:10), we simply can’t build our permanent hopes and dreams upon terra firma. Instead, we must travel light-like vacationers on holiday who’ll soon be returning to that wonderful place called home.
Perhaps composer and music producer Albert Brumley summed up these thoughts best in his gospel song, This World is Not My Home:
This world is not my home, I’m just-a-passing through
My pleasure and my hopes are placed beyond the blue
Many friends and kindred have gone on before
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.
Thought of the Month
“. . . for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of darkness into his wonderful light . . . Dear brothers and sisters, you are foreigners and aliens here.”
I Peter 2:9, 11