This week Andrew Scheer announced he was a dual citizen, Canadian and American. The Christian, however, is NOT a dual citizen of Canada and the Kingdom of God. This post is an attempt to help us remember this.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:20).
Paul wrote these words to the Christians in Philippi (the first church in Europe, where Lydia and the jailer had been converted, etc). This city became a Roman colony in 42 BC and became inhabited largely by army veterans. To be a colony of Rome meant that you were a little Rome outside of Rome. Citizens had special privileges like significant tax exemptions and rights to rich agricultural lands. The city also had everything you would expect in Rome (a theatre, forum, etc). Citizenship brought great blessings, as well as responsibilities. It could be something a Philippian Christian could see as so important that they placed greater emphasis on their identity as a citizen of a Roman colony than on their membership in the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Phil 1:27 Paul reminded the Philippian Christians “only let your manner of life as citizens be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” As Canadian Christians our greatest allegiance is not to be to Canada but to Christ. Our model of behaviour is also likewise not to be found in Canadian culture but in Christ. This is how we should view our identity and this greater reality should inform our allegiance, values and decisions. Augustine noted the tension between being in the world but not of the world (c.f. Jn 17:16) in his book City of God, where the Christian has the reality of participating in two realms. In fact I would suggest we should not even view ourselves as Canadian citizens, though by virtue of being in the world we are Canadian “citizens.” Rather we should view ourselves for what we are—citizens of heaven. We belong to a different kingdom with a different King (though we still engage in society here and respect the authorities). The Bible emphasises we are ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20); we represent one kingdom in another kingdom. We are like a little heaven outside of heaven. More radically it even says we are aliens, foreigners or sojourners (1 Pe 2:11; just passing through this kingdom en route to our home country in the New Heavens and New Earth.
As such, rather than seeing ourselves as dual citizens (Canadian-Kingdom of Heaven), we ought to see ourselves as residents of Canada who are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. When I lived in the UK as a permanent resident I had some rights and responsibilities, but I was Canadian. The same is true for us as Christians. We are residents, but our citizenship is in heaven. Let us not forget this vital truth about our identity.
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,
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