Word of the Week: Citizenship

We are two weeks away from a Presidential election in the United States where every citizen has the right to vote for their candidate. It’s often said that voting is essential to being a good citizen.

In fact, the official guide to naturalization states “Citizens have a responsibility to participate in the political process by registering and voting in elections.”

Maybe more than ever before, the citizenry of our great nation is politically polarized. Each party is appealing to voters to cast a ballot for their candidate as the one who will either make America great again or restore the soul of America. In some circles, it’s implied, if not stated, that to be a responsible citizen you must vote for a specific candidate.

The hype, heated rhetoric, and partisanship have not only divided our country but too often fractured the fellowship of some brethren. The vitriolic, caustic retorts posted on social media are a sad testimony to that embarrassing reality.

We need to be reminded that as Christians we’re citizens of another country. A different Kingdom. A holy nation.

To the saints at Philippi, Paul points out this great truth with these words:

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).

These brethren knew about citizenship. Philippi was a Roman colony. An outpost of Roman culture. A strategic military center. And a place where Roman solders could retire after their service to the Empire. William Barclay made this observation about the colonies.

“The great characteristic of these colonies was that, wherever they were, they remained fragments of Rome. Roman dress was worn; Roman magistrates governed; the Latin tongue was spoken; Roman justice was administered; Roman morals were observed. Even in the ends of the earth they remained unshakeably Roman.”

But Paul is telling these fiercely loyal colonists and proud Roman citizens, that you must never forget that you’re a citizen of heaven’s kingdom and that your behavior should correspond to your citizenship. Earlier he exhorted:

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27-28).

Both the English words translated “citizenship” and “conduct” are from a Greek word from which we derive our word “politics.” They speak to the behavior of a good citizen. The qualities and characteristics of spiritual citizenship in Christ’s Kingdom rises above secular interests. Material goals. Worldly ambitions. And current partisan political pursuits.

It would be a good exercise to read the 4 chapters of Philippians in the context of your conduct as a heavenly citizen. In just 15:30 you would learn that God wants Kingdom citizens…

…To be singled minded in their devotion to Christ

…To possess the joy of faith.

…To live with a heavenly hope.

…To behave in a manner that complements the gospel.

…To be loving. United. Unselfish. And others-focused.

…To develop the attitude of Christ.

…To be a light shining in a sin-darkened world.

…To beware of divisive, contentious, and harmful people and philosophies.

…To press on toward our eternal prize.

…To rejoice in the Lord. Always.

…To worry less.

…To pray more.

…To think on things that are true. Honorable. Just. Pure. Lovely. Admirable. Excellent. And praiseworthy.

…To learn the secret of Christian contentment.

…To rely on the Lord’s power for strength.

…And to never forget God that will supply all of our needs.

We need to remember, as Warren Wiersbe wrote, that “just as Philippi was a colony of Rome on foreign soil, so the church is a ‘colony of heaven’ on earth.”

Christ’s kingdom knows no physical boundaries or borders. I’m reminded of that fact when I realize that people from all 50 states and over 200 countries and territories have read this little blog. On any given week it’s read in 75-100 countries. We are fellow citizens with folks from every nationality, race, color and ethic origin.

Let’s not allow an election, our earthly citizenship, or our patriotism to diminish, denigrate, or dishonor our heavenly citizenship.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

 

2 Comments

Filed under Word of the Week

2 responses to “Word of the Week: Citizenship

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