Brothers and sisters, together follow my example and observe those who live by the pattern we gave you. For there are many, of whom I have often told you, and now tell you even with tears, who live as enemies of the cross of Christ [rejecting and opposing His way of salvation], whose fate is destruction, whose god is their belly [their worldly appetite, their sensuality, their vanity], and whose glory is in their shame—who focus their mind on earthly and temporal things. But [we are different, because] our citizenship is in heaven. And from there we eagerly await [the coming of] the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself, will [not only] transform [but completely refashion] our earthly bodies so that they will be like His glorious resurrected body.Philippians 3:17-21 AMP
Citizens have rights and responsibilities. If you’re a US citizen, you will find below several rights and responsibilities that all citizens should exercise and respect. Some of these responsibilities are legally required of every citizen, but all are important to ensuring that America remains a free and prosperous nation.
- Freedom to express yourself.
- Freedom to worship as you wish.
- Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
- Right to vote in elections for public officials.
- Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
- Right to run for elected office.
- Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
- Support and defend the Constitution.
- Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
- Participate in the democratic process.
- Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
- Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
- Participate in your local community.
- Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
- Serve on a jury when called upon.
- Defend the country if the need should arise.
I think we’d all be better people if we took those rights and responsibilities seriously. But this is not a lesson in civics. I bring up that example to compare and contrast what happens when we become citizens of Heaven by believing in Jesus and becoming a new creation in Christ by being born again of the Spirit of God.
Our heavenly citizenship affords us the right to eternal life and freedom from the power and penalty of sin. We also have responsibilities. We must obey the Lord and become equipped to serve in ministry.
Ministry is serving others. There are four areas of ministry that I’m currently focusing my studies on and look for opportunities to practice in my daily life.
- Prayer (including healing & deliverance)
Love builds relational bridges that can bear the weight of truth. There is no greater love than the love that God has for us. Where there was no way for us to bridge the gap between a holy God and a fallen humanity, Jesus made a way. God Himself put on the likeness of man to make an atoning sacrifice by which all who believe in the Son of God can be saved by faith. His grace is enough. There’s nothing more that needs to be added. Jesus said, “It is finished.”
The hard work of restoring friendly relations between us and the Father has been completed. We are in Christ. His wrath was poured out on the sacrificial Lamb of God. If you believe that, you’re free from condemnation. That’s why we call the Gospel the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Prayer is our conscious connection with God. He will never leave us nor forsake us, but He likes to fellowship with us, too. Everything begins with prayer. Our relationship with the Father begins when we pray to receive His forgiveness of our sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Our relationship continues, each and everyday, as we pray to our Father in Heaven, either silently or aloud. God knows your thoughts before you even have them. Sharing them with Him just keeps the lines of communication open.
Everything we do should be informed and sustained through prayer. God has a plan and a purpose for your life. Through conversations with God, you come to discover your divine design. It is the redeemed purpose of all your gifts and talents. God gifted you to serve. You are a word of the Word. The words we speak should be echoes of what we hear from Heaven.
Evangelism is how we advance the Kingdom of God. We take back what the enemy stole. We storm the gates of hell to rescue souls of the oppressed, setting them free as we preach the Word of Truth and bear the image of Christ in the darkness of this world. Evangelism without love is a soulless endeavor. People respond to love before they respond to truth.
Disciplemaking continues that relationship with those who are ready and willing to lay their lives down and pick up their crosses. We freely teach and give away all the mysteries of the Kingdom to those the Father has chosen to be His beloved children. We are guardians of the faith, on assignment, on a holy mission to raise up mature believers who can go and do likewise.
Fellowship is also ministry. It is the mutual encouragement and building up in love that we provide one another. It’s the bread and butter that makes the daily grind worthwhile. If we don’t have brothers and sisters in arms that we can share our successes and setbacks with, it becomes a very lonely road and few, in any, survive the endless onslaught of the enemy incurred by those who do ministry.
Ministry is serving others. Not for material gain, but because we love. If you don’t love, you don’t know God because God is love. Our citizenship is in Heaven. We are temporary residents, sojourners here on this planet. We are in the world, but not of the world. We seek to build up the Kingdom of God, not our own earthly empires.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Everything was created by Him, through Him, for Him. Everything exists to give glory to God. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about earthly resources. If you follow God and do His will, He has already provided everything you’ll ever need. Just be patient and hold your peace as you wait expectantly for God to provide for all your needs in a glorious way through Christ Jesus. He is a good Father. He won’t let His children starve.
So the question is how do you identify yourself? What citizenship do you hold? Are you a child of God? Or a citizen of the world? Are you a citizen of Heaven? Or do identify with the ruler of this world?
God’s Kingdom rules and reigns over all the nations. Every tribe and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. We may not see it yet, but it will come to pass. Our hope is in Heaven, and His Name is Jesus.
If we properly identify with our citizenship in Heaven, all the petty disagreements and arguments that divide us will fall away. We will see our common humanity as the medium through which the Spirit moves and acts to reconcile us all back to God. We are all members of God’s family of faith. Isn’t it time we show each other love and respect?
May the King of Kings and Lord of Lords reveal Himself to your heart and soul in a real and tangible way this moment. May you forever be changed and become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ, the firstborn of many brethren, a champion of truth and a lover of souls. In the mighty Name of Jesus we pray. Amen and amen.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord]. In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19-22 AMP