Where’s Your Citizenship?
11 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
As Christians, we have our citizenship among God’s people.
Have you ever felt like an alien? Standing out for the mere fact you didn’t belong or weren’t accepted? My friend and I looked the right part. We had dressed for the evening mixer at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference after listening to a full day’s slate of top party politicians and conservative icons. With anticipation, we walked toward the hotel ballroom discussing whose elbows we were ready to rub. Outside the door we stopped to have our credentials, dangling from our necks, checked for admission. “Your ticket did not include any of the social events,” the stone-faced woman told us. My “but, but…” was quickly cut off. “You can’t go in,” she stated emphatically. No fellowship. No hope of entry. No apology.
In today’s scripture, Paul discusses our relationship with Christ in terms of belonging to a commonwealth. With national citizenship, we live under a constitution with political standing, government privileges and laws, and shared community habits. We have rights and responsibilities as citizens under a covenant of sorts purchased with the blood of brave ancestors. Our fellowship and freedom as Americans is guaranteed by this constitution.
Paul reminds us we were once spiritually alienated – not allowed inclusion or fellowship – by the penalty and presence of sin. We were literally ‘without God in the world.’ We had no citizenship with God’s people and none of their rights: hope, a share in His covenant, and relationship with God. But through the purchase price of Christ’s blood, we are brought into fellowship. We are made part of His covenant. We are given hope in this life that is anchored in heaven (Hebrews 6:19-20). And as a result, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we wait a Savior” (Phil 3:20). The English root word for hope means “to open the eyes wide and watch for what is to come” (Collyer).
I recovered from having my access denied to a political mixer even though it still rankles a bit. I find it much easier to be an alien on earth with the promise of better things to come. I cannot imagine the fate of having no God in the world, no hope from heaven, and no eternal citizenship with Him. Have you been brought into fellowship with Christ through His blood? If so, we can, in the words of Matthew Henry, “love heaven the more on His account, and long to be there with Him, where we shall be forever safe, and forever satisfied.”
Questions to Ponder
How much do you value citizenship?
Citizenship has both value and responsibilities. What values (rights to claim) does Paul list in verses 12-13 that a citizen of heaven has by faith in Christ (see also Ephesians 2:8-9)?
How were those rights made possible?
Did you feel far away from God at one point?
How should you feel now? Thank Him for what He has done.
Scripture Memory | April | Ephesians 1:7
“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”