235. Citizenship in the kingdom
We are naturally citizens of the nation where we were born, unless we voluntarily give up our citizenship, while some have immigrated ( come to live permanently in another nation) and have acquired citizenship in that nation. Since the kingdom of God is not of this world, but from above, no man has ever been a natural or born-citizen of the kingdom of God, except the one who was born from above. Speaking of Christ, John the Baptist said, "The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard ..." - (John 3:31-32) If there is anyone whose words can be trusted, it is Christ, because he came from above and knows what he is talking about! To the Jews who thought of themselves as most virtuous (having or showing high moral standards) to enter heaven, Jesus said, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you will die in your sins; if you do not believe that 'I AM HE', you will die in your sins." - (John 8:23-24) If the Jews with their unique ancestry and rich heritage were not acknowledged as natural citizens of the kingdom of God, by virtue of their birth, how then can those born in Christian families be acknowledged as natural citizens of the kingdom of God, by virtue of their birth? . 'For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are descendants are they all Abraham's children ... In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the "children of the promise" who are regarded as Abraham's offspring.' - (Romans 9:6-7) 'Yet to all ( meaning the children of the promise) who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.' -(John 1:12-13) Since no one is born a natural citizen of the kingdom of God, the only criteria that remains for citizenship is to immigrate to the kingdom of God. Just as those who have fled repressive regimes were granted asylum and citizenship in other nations, we too have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and granted citizenship in the kingdom of God. 'For he rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves ...' - ( Colossians 1:13) Just as naturalized (the admittance of foreigners to the citizenship of a country) citizens owe their allegiance to the nation that granted them citizenship since they pledged (commit by a solemn promise) to abide by the constitution of that nation, even so, we owe our allegiance to the kingdom of God which has granted us citizenship, since we made the 'pledge of a good conscience toward God' in water. - (1 Peter 3:21) But sadly, many Christians 'live as enemies of the cross of Christ ... Their God is their stomach and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.' - (Philippians 3:18-21) In other words, only kingdom citizens can expect to be transformed in a twinkle of an eye! -(1 Corinthians 15:52) To sum up, we are not born citizens of heaven, but reborn to be citizens of heaven! Become a kingdom citizen soon, if you haven't yet! Amen.