As a Christian I often feel like I don’t belong in this world, like I am a stranger in a foreign land that doesn’t speak the language or understand the culture. The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians of our citizenship in heaven. So, I am a citizen of a far greater place – the kingdom of God! My name is written in heaven, along with many believers. Scripture in Luke 10:20 tells me that my name is recorded on the certificate of my new birth as a Christian. It’s as real as the piece of paper that documents the time and place I was born on Earth.
Does our heavenly citizenship exempt us from Earthly responsibilities? No, it doesn’t. We can’t isolate ourselves to our church families, or live above and removed from the secular world because we long for our heavenly home. We also can’t compromise our faith to meet the world’s expectations. God wants us to lay aside the ways of the world while still in it and live as witnesses, doing the important work He wants us to do. We can’t deliver His Good News, unless we seek and interact with those who need it. As Christians our dual citizenship carries with it awesome privileges as well as great personal responsibilities. Charles F. Stanley claims, “We cannot be good American citizens if we are inadequate Christians. Nor can we be good followers of Christ if we shirk our civic duties.” (“America at the Crossroads”, Nov. 2004).
How then can we live as citizens of heaven here on Earth?! Being a Christian means marching to the beat of a different bandleader! I read not too long ago in Our Daily Bread that “when we walk with the Lord we are out of step with the world”. How true that is! In our Christian walk, we are to be the salt of the Earth and a light to the world. Salt has healing properties, but it can also sting, causing pain and discomfort. Light is revealing, but many close their eyes and hearts to it. We ought to gently season the Earth, sprinkling it with God’s truth and shining our lights to reflect the beauty of our savior.
We do this by conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of heavenly citizens, like we would as representatives of the United States in a foreign country. I recently heard a co-worker say that Christians in her opinion are all hypocrites. This made me realize that I am called to be an example, and that comes with great responsibility. It also made me sad to realize that sometimes we Christians give Christianity a “bad name” without meaning to. Being judgmental or unsocial does not give our heavenly home a “good name”. We can strive to always be aware of our actions and words, asking for forgiveness when we do or say wrong. We need to be in and living the Word daily, so that we can dress in the full armor of God. We need to know who our enemy is as Christians, so that we can stand together strong with courage and conviction. And last, but most important, we need to pray with determination and confidence for all occasions.
As dual citizens we need to pray for our President in his second term, as he and our nation face the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, in a post-9/11 world. Only God can bring a much needed healing to our great nation. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicle 7:14.