Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Kingdom Citizens

{Ephesians 2:19-22; ESV}
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The apostle Paul, in Ephesians 2:11-18, reminds his readers of their previous reality. They were excluded from God’s Kingdom, and therefore they had no hope. Yet, something happened to change their status. That something was Christ Jesus who broke down the wall (verse 14). Through Jesus they were given hope and they were reconciled to God.

Stop for a moment and remember the truth of your former life. Even those of us who have grown up in a Christian family can remember the time we realized that we were outside of God’s Kingdom. I vividly remember the night when I realized that I couldn’t rely on the faith of my family, but that I had to have my own faith. That was a scary night, but fortunately I knew the One I had to turn to in order to find forgiveness and hope.

That is what served as a lead in to what the apostle Paul wrote in verses 19-22 of Ephesians 2. What Paul wants us to understand is that we are part of a great community, a Kingdom. Before, while we were in our sin, we were outsiders, we didn’t belong to God’s Kingdom, but now we do. We were citizens of the world, and foreigners in the Kingdom of God, but now our citizenship has changed. The world is no longer our home, we are pilgrims in this land, because our citizenship is now in Heaven.

I want to point out two implications of being citizens of God’s Kingdom. The first implication is that we are not alone. We are not the only citizen of the Kingdom, and though it might feel like we are all alone at times, that is just a feeling and not reality. In this Kingdom are all the faithful who lived under the Old Covenant as well as all of the faithful who follow Christ Jesus. The writer of Hebrews writes of a “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). It encourages me to think about all the people who have lived faithful lives, because it reminds me that I am not the only one to experience the struggles of faith.

The second implication I would like to point out is that there are certain expectations that come along with being a citizen of God’s Kingdom. One of the things that have horrified us, as U.S. citizens, has been the accusation of torture by some of our soldiers. We have an expectations that our military would be above things like that. There are expectations placed on being a citizen of Heaven that we need to live up to. One of those expectations is that we are to be servants. We need to be helping those people in need of help. A second expectation is that we live moral lives. The moral standard that we live by needs to be better than the rest of the world. People need to recognize that there is a difference in the way we live and the way they live.

What a word of hope that Paul shares with us in this passage. We are part of God’s Kingdom! You and I need to allow this reality to shape the way we live. Why? We are no representatives, ambassadors, of God’s Kingdom, and we need to play the part.

  • Point to Ponder: We are citizens of God’s Kingdom!
  • Passage to Remember: Ephesians 2:19-22
  • Prayer to Pray: Lord God, give me the wisdom and understanding I need to be a good ambassador of Your Kingdom...

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