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We Are Citizens

We Are Citizens

09 February 2019

We Are Citizens
Jim Stephens

Reading: Leviticus 10-12; Acts 16

But Paul replied, “They have publicly beaten us without trial and jailed us—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!” (Acts 16:37 NLT)

Paul was a Jew by race, a Roman citizen by birth, and a citizen of God's eternal kingdom by faith. Paul took his citizenship seriously and emphasized each of his citizenship connections when it was appropriate. He was faithful to his Jewish racial and religious roots, he respected the rights and responsibilities of his Roman citizenship, but he gave his life to advance God's kingdom on the earth.

Paul’s citizenship on earth and his citizenship in God’s kingdom often thrust him into conflict. Sometimes it was conflict between religious Jews and his faith in Christ. Sometimes it was conflict between the Roman reality and his citizenship in God’s eternal kingdom. Sometimes it was conflict between the rules of men and the will of God. Sometimes it was conflict between his love for his people, the Jews, and his love for Jesus, his Master. Sometimes he even felt conflict between the desire to continue his work and the desire to leave it all behind and be with Jesus in heaven!

Like Paul, my “citizenships” often bring me into conflict as well. In this time of political and ideological polarization, I’m aware of intense debate in the nation of my earthly citizenship over the “right” way to govern the country, strengthen the economy, provide healthcare for the citizens, keep our borders secure, fight crime…the list of conflicts seems endless! And those on each side of each issue are determined that they alone are right and all others are wrong! Besides that, I struggle with my own desire for comfort and security versus the “letting-go” values of God’s Kingdom.

Unlike Paul, my citizenship conflicts aren’t life or death, prison or freedom conflicts at this point. But like Paul, I must have right values and the guidance of the Spirit of Jesus to keep my priorities straight and honor the responsibilities of each of my “citizenships”.

Prayer:

Father, Please help me to be a faithful and responsible citizen of all the worlds and kingdoms I'm part of. My citizenships sometimes bring me into conflicting situations and face me with difficult and challenging decisions. May my thoughts, my decisions, and my life be guided by my loyalty to your Kingdom, my Master, my Father, and my Friend. Amen.

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