Citizens on Earth
Ever since Adam and Eve’s fall into sin in the Garden of Eden, every human with the exception of Jesus has been conceived and born in sin.
Original sin is our ascribed status—in other words, one in which we have no choice. As the Apostle Paul writes to the Romans, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (5:12).
Likewise, babies have no say as to where they are born. Just as they are born in sin because their parents are sinners, so too babies are citizens of the nation where their parents hold citizenship.
Most of those reading this article are citizens of the United States. Being born in the United States does endow us with a host of blessings and benefits as Christians. As we commemorate our nation’s birth this July 4th, it is certainly appropriate to thank our Maker for the privileges of our U.S. citizenship.
First and foremost among our blessings is the right to worship our God without threat of governmental interference or punishment.
We also have the right to choose leaders who will represent us and our views in government. And we have the right to educate our children—to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
These privileges, however, may not always receive the blessing of our government! The moral fiber of our nation is eroding. Behavior that was once thought unconscionable is now openly accepted and even encouraged.
Secularism and materialism are the gods of many in our land. In order to avoid being labeled narrow-minded or judgmental, many are willing to take the path of least resistance and compromise God’s clear Word in the Bible. The word sin is taboo. Even some Christian churches focus more on community and social programs and less on the message of sin and grace.
One only has to look at the churches of Europe today to see what our country’s future may look like–beautiful buildings that are empty inside, both physically and spiritually. Increased persecution against those who hold fast to God’s Word seems likely in our future. Take heart, dear reader, for God knows how to use even persecution for His holy purposes. God’s faithful prophet Elijah was not alone in confessing the Lord, as he thought he was (see I Kings 19:18). The execution of Christians by Roman Emperor Nero did not diminish God’s Church but rather caused it to grow. The atheism of communism did not stamp out Christianity. Throughout history, citizens of countries that repudiated Christianity still have Christians in their midst.
Citizens of Heaven
If our hope for the future were based solely on our citizenship in the United States, what a precarious position we would have. Our nation’s position in the world may seem secure, but no doubt those in ancient cities like Nineveh and Tyre felt so too. At the height of Britain’s power, the British poet and author Rudyard Kipling was asked to compose a poem to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign. He rightly placed emphasis not on the strength of his nation but on the Lord God of Hosts who had given them their power. The refrain of each stanza warns, “Lest we forget–lest we forget!”
In the United States we too need to remember that the source of our nation’s power is He who holds the whole world in His hands. We also need to remember that more important than any kind of earthly citizenship and power is our citizenship in heaven. Unlike sin, which is inherited, salvation is not inherited! Blessings such as the parents we have, the country we live in, and even the church we hold membership in do not guarantee us the inheritance of eternal life in heaven. Rather, citizenship in heaven is a gift—free and undeserved—won by our Savior Jesus Christ when He redeemed us by dying on the cross for our sins.
It was at our conversion and rebirth that we became citizens of heaven. That’s when Christ began His gracious rule in our hearts.
Now as citizens of heaven we enjoy the freedoms to follow our Savior, to say no to the devil and our sinful flesh, and to share the gospel as the Holy Spirit provides strength and opportunity to do so. Since we hold citizenship in heaven, we need not fear our earthly state of affairs. Whether living in a country rich in freedoms and material wealth or living somewhere in squalor and oppression, it matters not, because our future is secure in Jesus.
O sweet and blessed country, The home of God’s elect! O sweet and blessed country
That eager hearts expect! Jesus, in mercy bring us To that dear land of rest,
Who art with God the Father And Spirit ever blest. Amen. (TLH #613:4)