Where is your citizenship? As Americans we know we are citizens of this great country, and that entitles us to the full rights that all Americans enjoy. The Constitution and Bill of Rights recognize that we are all created equal, and we are endowed with these inalienable rights by our sovereign God, and those rights have been protected by every person who has worn the uniform over the years. We are also residents of our state and most local municipalities.
For the Christian, though, we have dual citizenship. We are very much American citizens, and yet our citizenship is simultaneously in heaven. In Philippians 3:20-21 Paul wrote, ““But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
The Greek word for citizenship (conversation in the KJV) is unique and appears only hear in the Bible. The word refers to the locality where one’s name is listed among the official register of citizens. In other words, there is a place somewhere where each person’s vital records are on file; birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage licenses are stored in a building somewhere, and that place is where the person is an official citizen. This was a great analogy for Paul to use for the Philippians for one important reason: Rome had adopted Philippi as an official Roman province.
Because of its location Philippi was prime real estate, and it generated a lot of tax revenue for the Roman Empire. The famous Roman Road called the Ignation Way ran through Philippi, and traders from around the world came through to do business. Rome was so grateful for the profits that they made the Philippians official Roman citizens, giving them the full rights of those born in Rome, and they didn’t even have to pay taxes.
So go back to Paul’s analogy. The Philippians lived in Philippi, but their names were written down in Rome. They lived in one place, but their citizenship was in another. The same is true for Christians. We live here, but our names are written down in heaven (Luke 10:20). We live on earth, but we have the full rights of those who already live in heaven. We are just strangers and pilgrims passing through this land on our way to heaven. In the meantime, we can go boldly before the throne of the King of Heaven while our mansion is being prepared just over the hilltop. When we get there, Paul said, we will get to exchange these earthly bodies for ones that match our new heavenly residence.
I am proud to be an American, and am thankful for the ones who died to give these rights to me. But I am ecstatic that I am a Christian, and am thankful for the one who died—my Lord Jesus Christ—to make my salvation possible. Where is your citizenship? Is your name written down in heaven?