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Treasured Citizenship

I don’t know if there is another holiday that calls forth the patriotic spirit in Americans like our Fourth of July celebrations. Again this year we have seen the parades, saluted our American flags, and blasted off tons of fireworks across our land. We know that we live in the best country in the world, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

One thinks of the limited freedoms in other, even democratic, countries. Many live without the great liberties that we take for granted. Now think of the many people throughout the world who possess dual citizenship. They are Americans because of the nationality of one parent or because they were born here. But different circumstances have dictated that they must live in another far less prosperous, far less pleasant, far less liberated country than we do.

We should be led to thank God all the more for the blessings of our homeland with the great liberties we possess. These liberties make practicing our faith so much easier than in most other countries in the world. Add to that the blessing of our nation’s prosperity, and we see how wondrously we are enabled, by the Lord’s rich grace and blessing, to support the spread of the gospel with our prayers and offerings.

We should be so tremendously grateful for the privilege of this citizenship. We should be quick to thank God that we live in this land we love, and add the prayer: “God bless the USA!”

The Age Of Fulfillment

But we also ARE possessors of dual citizenship–not only that, but our America is the land with the lesser freedom and limited liberty. We possess the same blessed citizenship that the patriarchs possessed of whom it is written: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth. . . . But now they desire a better, that is, an heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:13,16).

Living in the age of fulfillment, we are blessed to be among the beneficiaries of God’s grace. By faith we understand that we “are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). What joy is ours in believing, as we lift our eyes to heaven: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Php. 3:20-21).

Just as we are reminded of the price that was paid for the freedom we enjoy in America, so we are led by the Spirit to understand and appreciate that a far greater price was paid for the freedom found in Christ.

The glorious liberty from sin and death that awaits us in heaven came at the price of the “holy, precious blood, and the innocent sufferings and death” (Second Article) of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, we are blessed to spend our temporal lives glorifying God in this rich and free land of America, but we are far more richly blessed with the greater eternal citizenship in heaven with its unsurpassed glory and the everlasting freedom to serve our God and praise His glorious name.

–Pastor Theodore Barthels