Citizens of Heaven: What It Really Means to Be Not of This World
When speaking of our identity in Christ, “citizen” is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But the truth is that it is probably one of the most defining attributes of a believer. Being citizens of heaven not only gives us an identity, but it also gives us a purpose. We are called to represent heaven here on earth. And this is a responsibility we should never take lightly.
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From one kingdom to the next…
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13-14 (emphasis added)
The Bible tells us that we’ve been transferred (past tense) from the kingdom of darkness into God’s Kingdom. When speaking of this transfer, Paul speaks as though it already happened. It’s not something that will happen in the future, rather it happens the moment you receive Christ.
It’s important to make this distinction because many of us view our citizenship as a future event. We will one day be in God’s Kingdom. But the truth is that if you are a child of God, you are already a citizen with all of the freedoms, rights, responsibilities that come with being citizens of heaven.
New rights and responsibilities…
Nations have laws, and these laws differ from country to country. In the kingdom of darkness, we were slaves. We were taught to believe that we had every right in the world to live as we pleased, but the truth is that we had no rights at all. We had no freedom.
In the Kingdom of God, there is freedom! We are no longer slaves to sin, rather we are free to live as sons and daughters of the King. But with our freedom, we have specific responsibilities. We live by the rules of our new Kingdom and serve our new King in all that we do.
This world is not our home…
As Christians, we long for the day when we will be face to face with our King. We long for our heavenly home. But until that day, we live here on earth. We must remember that we are here for a purpose. The Bible calls us ambassadors. Our job is to spread heaven culture here on earth. We represent our Kingdom as well as our King in all that we do. Our friendships, our work ethic, our marriages, our families… all of these areas of our lives should reflect heaven culture to the best of our own abilities. We cannot control the people around us, but we can do our part as ambassadors of heaven to represent our King well.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. – 2 Corinthians 5:20 (emphasis added)
Seated in heavenly places…
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:6-7
I know it’s difficult to imagine, but as citizens of heaven, we are spiritually alive in a way that gains us access to the spiritual realm where God lives. Paul’s words in his letter to the Ephesians describes everything as happening past tense. As mind-boggling as it is, the Bible tells us that we have already been seated in heavenly places with Christ.
Think about it this way… Every time you pray, you are speaking to God, a spiritual being (John 4:24), by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within you. When you worship, you are worshipping in Spirit and in truth. We can resist the devil, who exists in the spirit realm, and he has to flee. We fight battles in the spirit realm using spiritual weaponry. You exist just as much in the heavenly realms as you do here in the physical realm. You speak into that realm every time you pray and resist the enemy.
As citizens of heaven, we are God’s representatives. The world may not be our home, but we are called here for a divine purpose.
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*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.
**Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash