Our Citizenship

Chuck Bartlett

We all know that people can live in a country and not be a citizen. They could either be an illegal immigrant or a legal immigrant. For the most part you can’t tell by just looking at someone whether they are a citizen or not. The only way you can tell if someone is a citizen of a certain country is to provide documentation. No, this is not a political article. The fact is that this concept of citizenship is taught in God’s word concerning the kingdom of Christ.

When someone becomes a Christian they then have the status required to gain citizenship into the spiritual kingdom, the church (Col. 1:13; Acts 2:47). The apostle Paul, in writing to the church at Ephesus, spent some time pointing out this aspect of citizenship and what it ought to mean to the brethren there. We will look at the text of Ephesians 2:19-22, to see the lessons that the apostle was pointing out.

“No longer strangers and foreigners” (vr. 19)

When someone dwells in a country without citizenship, he is considered by those who live it that country to be a stranger or foreigner. This isn’t meant to be rude, it’s just a fact. Paul knows this to be true spiritually. People can worship with Christians and pretty much do everything that other Christians do; however, if they have not become a Christian, they will be considered strangers and foreigners. This isn’t a minor technicality. You are either a citizen or you are not.

“fellow citizens with the saints” (vr. 19)

It matters not to the Lord if you are a 3rd generation of Christians or a 1st generation Christian. It’s not my place to look down on someone who is a new Christian just because his parents and grandparents were not part of the kingdom. Nor should a new convert feel like less of a citizen. The concept of being a fellow citizen means equal rights. We are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:27-28).

“built on the foundation of apostles and prophets and Jesus Christ” (vr. 20)

For a recent child of God, he or she can talk about the forefathers as their forefathers. It might seem odd for me and for those who hear me, when I become a citizen of the United States, to speak about “our” founding fathers of this nation. Those who have been citizens their whole life might deep down think, “Wait, they aren’t your founding fathers!” But, in truth, they are. Spiritually, the apostles, prophets, and Christ Jesus are not more of a foundation to older Christians as they are to recent one.

“the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (vr. 21)

The idea of every citizen working together following the same laws and having the same care for one another is appealing indeed. Not only that, we are talking about that which belongs to the Lord. Remember, we are in a kingdom that has a King. We have no problem being loyal subjects because of all the spiritual blessings that come with being in the household of God (Eph. 1:3-4). Therefore, being a holy nation will be the natural outcome. It’s no wonder that physical kingdoms in the world will never achieve this because they aren’t the kingdom of the Lord.

“built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (vr. 22)

When we stop and consider that way we act as citizens, would our God be pleased dwelling in our midst? The fact is, if He wouldn’t, then we are being disloyal and will be held accountable for our actions. May we all, as Christians, be proud to be a citizen and not take it for granted.

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