Please welcome my dear friend Betsy de Cruz all the way from Turkey to My Messy Desk. She has some amazing perspective on this week’s word – citizen.
Citizen: a person who legally belongs to a country and has the rights and protection of that country
The question “Where are you from?” is easy enough for most people, but my kids never know how to answer. Their mother is American, but their dad is Salvadoran. They were born in San Salvador, but grew up in Turkey. Here in Turkey, they’re foreign kids, but in America, they’re kids who grew up overseas.
Sometimes we don’t know where we belong. For 14 years, Turkey has been our home, yet last year we returned to America for 9 months. About the time we got used to life there, it was time to turn around and come back here. We’re delighted to be back, but I’d be lying if I said it was easy. Our tongues are slower to speak Turkish, and our car feels foreign driving in this traffic that unravels me all over again.
You don’t have to move overseas to feel foreign.
Moving to a new city can make you feel like an outsider, especially when your children struggle to find friends and adapt to a new school. Even if you spend your whole life in the same place, seeking to live out your faith in our non-Christian culture can make you feel like an alien. You might feel alone as the only believer at your job.
When our circumstances make us feel out of place, we can find courage and comfort in remembering our true home. We’re citizens of heaven.
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20
As I studied, I remembered the privileges that come with our heavenly citizenship:
We belong to God
As citizens of heaven, our highest privilege is adoption into God’s family. We’re His children, and we’re marked with His Holy Spirit, the deposit that guarantees our future inheritance. No matter where we go, nothing changes our identity. We’re always God’s children, and we always have a place where we belong.
We have a Savior.
When Paul penned these words to the Philippians, conquered peoples could acquire Roman citizenship by purchase or by service (Acts 22:28). In contrast, Jesus Christ purchased our heavenly citizenship with His blood. He shed His own blood to atone for our sins and to transfer our citizenship from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of heaven.
One day He’ll take us to our true home.
Heaven is our homeland. No wonder we sometimes feel out of place here on earth. The good news is that Jesus will come back for us. The NIV says we “eagerly await” his return. Another translation says we “can hardly wait.” The thought of waiting for Jesus gives me hope!
There’s more good news: We can enjoy our citizenship in God’s Kingdom even now:
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” Ephesians 2:19
We’re members of God’s church here on earth. While we wait for Jesus’ return, we enjoy many benefits of our citizenship when we meet with other believers for worship. Nothing equals the joy we feel when we sing loud praises that lift the roof off of church on a Sunday. It’s a reminder of our true citizenship, don’t you think?
(Note: If you’d like to learn more about verse-mapping, follow this link to read: A Creative Way to Unlock More of the Bible.)
Betsy de Cruz enjoys God, life with teenagers, and dark roast coffee. Betsy’s passion is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. She and her family live in the Middle East. Most days she feels privileged to live overseas; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. You can find Betsy at her blog, faithspillingover.com , on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.