“A Word for this Week” Pastor Bill Mugnolo: HARP Pastoral Advisor
Week of July 3-9, 2017: “You Have a Greater Citizenship” … Philippians 3:20-21
As we celebrate this week our National Day of Independence, we certainly take pride in being citizens of the United States. Two-Thousand years ago, many took pride in being citizens of the Roman Empire—a privilege that only few enjoyed. Some of them lived in special colonies—such as Philippi—where they had rights and privileges of what we might call being “super citizens” of Rome. Many in the Philippians Church were such Roman “super citizens”.
But the Apostle Paul, a Roman Citizen himself, had to remind the Philippians that they had an even greater citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven (Philippians 3:20). From that Kingdom the Lord would someday return to transform our earthly bodies to be like His glorious resurrected body (Philippians 3:21). No U.S. President or Roman Emperor, as powerful as they might be, could ever bring that kind of transformation about.
While yet here on earth, our heavenly citizenship entitles us to great privileges. We can always approach the Lord who will give to us exceedingly more than all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). But our heavenly citizenship also has its responsibilities. As U.S. Citizens, we might possibly end up going to war. But as heavenly citizens, we are always at war against spiritual forces that wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). Then, as U.S. Citizens, we might serve someone out of a sense of civic duty towards them. But as heavenly citizens, we look to serve them in order to bring to them the very light of Christ Himself (Matthew 5:14-16).
Our heavenly citizenship will also impact how we live out our roles as U.S. Citizens. We are called to pray for our leaders in government as the law and order that they establish enables us to both live in peace and to freely share the Gospel (1 Timothy 2:1-5). We are also called to obey our leaders and pay taxes to them (Romans 13:1-7). However, we are not obligated to obey our governing authorities should they try and force us to do something where we would end up disobeying God (Acts 5:28-29).
Yes, our United States’ Citizenship is something that so many of us are privileged to enjoy. But Jesus would always remind us, “You have a greater citizenship.” Our first pledge of allegiance is to Jesus Christ who gave Himself up for us as no earthly ruler could have ever done. Having given His life He now gives us life as He prepares for the greatest life of all as “super-citizens” of His Kingdom yet to come.