But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1Peter 2:9-10 NAS)
One of the most confusing and frustrating aspects of the Christian life is the basic question: “Do you know who you are?” There are several reasons for this. We are citizens of a human country or nation and, for most, that means being citizens of America where we enjoy massive benefits – none of which trump that which most hold more precious than almost everything else – our freedom. But we are also citizens of heaven – chosen by God, a holy nation who are distinctly a people marked by God’s grace and mercy, and we belong to Him. Our citizenship in heaven creates a struggle and sometimes a conflict with our citizenship on earth. Where do our loyalties and allegiance rest? Things become more complicated when we read a verse like Matthew 4:9-10:
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things will I give you, if you fall down and worship me.” (NAS)
What Is Your Citizenship?
In some mystical way Satan controls, has ownership of and has a controlling interest in the kingdoms of the world. This does not mean we are all possessed. What it does mean is that we are all “in Adam”; His original sin has been a disease, an infection that has isolates every human being that enters this world, from God’s family. In one sense we have 3 citizenships: we have our earthly citizenship (e.g. being American or Canadian or whatever country you were born); we have a common heritage and “citizenship” of being part of a group of people living under the “dominion of darkness” (we are subjected prisoners – citizens – of the dominion of Satan, Colossians 1:13); and finally, when a person places faith and trust in Christ we become citizens of heaven. We move from being “in Adam” to being “in Christ”.
Here is the challenge: We are to completely divorce ourselves from the old spiritual citizenship; completely. That citizenship has been severed, crucified, disavowed in every sense of the word, because of Christ. However, we are still obligated to be good citizens of our earthly country; but now, the only way to do that is to allow our heavenly citizenship to reshape and dictate all our priorities of what it means to be a citizen in the world. If you study the Scriptures it will affirm these things: we are no longer enslaved citizens of Satan’s domain (Romans 6:1-11; Colossians 1:13); we are to affirm our responsibilities as citizens of earth (Romans 13:1-7), and it will be dictated by our heavenly citizenship:
If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 NAS)
What Is Your Identity?
Because of the conflict of threefold-citizenship-issue it is often confusing for us to know what comes first or in what situations do we act as a citizen of earth and what situations do we face when we should act more like a citizen of heaven. But this is exactly why we are confused; the challenge is not which one takes precedent, but how does our heavenly citizenship dominate our thinking so that we are even better citizens of earth.
There is an old saying that I would like to address. You have maybe heard it before and sounds something like this: “That person is so heavenly minded they are no earthly good” – not necessarily a compliment and usually directed at people who are so ethereal they are like spiritual space cadets who are always waiting for God to hang a sign for them. But the reality is this: If you are not heavenly minded you will not be any earthly good. In other words, the only way to be a great citizen of earth is to be crystal clear and convinced that our heavenly citizenship must overwhelmingly reshape our beliefs, values, priorities, and behaviors as earthly citizenship. If it doesn’t you are likely to live a very confused, disconnected life because you will never figure out who you are…