Wednesday, September 30 2020 - 5:09 PM
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Citizens by Birth

What does it mean to be a citizen of a country? Do we have to act a certain way? Not really. We have plenty of citizens in the U.S. who have a wide range of temperaments and personalities. Many are nice, while others—not so much. Our prisons are full of people who have broken laws and rules, yet they are still citizens.

We can be citizens of a country and be selfish, unkind, hateful and bigoted without it jeopardizing our citizenship. No one is going to deny your rights as a citizen if you are a jerk or a racist. You will probably encounter grief because of it, but you are free to live as you like, as long as you don’t break the law. However, the same cannot be said of those who are citizens of heaven. Our citizenship in heaven is determined by grace and evidenced by how we live on earth.

How do we become citizens of heaven? Jesus answered this question when he spoke with a Jewish attorney named Nicodemus:

“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:7, NLT).

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News” (Philippians 1:27, NLT).

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4, NLT).

Being a U.S. citizen has its advantages but it is far from ideal. There are many unforeseen tragedies and heartaches that accompany an earthly citizenship. And, as an American, if we are fortunate, we will grow old and eventually die, because we live on a broken planet. Our earthly citizenship does not entitle us to entry into God’s kingdom.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NLT).

Because God has been gracious and kind to us, we are under obligation to treat everyone we encounter in the same way. It is what heaven’s citizens do!

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.

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