Have you ever wondered what it means to have a heavenly citizenship?
Philippians 3:20 says:
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.”
Philippians 3:20 (NLT)
But what does it mean for our citizenship to be in heaven?
Sometimes I feel it’s easier to try and paint a picture of how this works.
I want you to imagine that when you accepted Jesus into your life, you were automatically issued a passport from heaven.
Ephesians 1:13 says:
“When you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”
Ephesians 1:13 (ESV)
Imagine that your heavenly passport has been officially sealed and stamped by Christ with the promise of the Holy Spirit, certifying where your true identity and true citizenship lies.
Your citizenship, and your identity, has been moved. You are no longer a citizen of this world; you are a citizen of heaven.
So, exactly what does it mean for us to have a heavenly citizenship, and for our citizenship to be in heaven?
That’s what we’re going to unpack in this post. Let’s go!
Why Citizenship is Important
The reason why citizenship is important is because the country in which you have citizenship is one of the most significant things about you. The reason for this is because your citizenship plays a major role in forming your identity.
Everything from your culture, your worldview, to your value system are all shaped based on the country in which you are a citizen.
I experience this the most when I am abroad.
I have traveled all over the world, but something I’ve learned from my travels is just how much my identity is rooted in the fact that I am a US citizen. My perspective on life, and the world around me, has been shaped dramatically by the country in which I was raised.
Whenever I ran into a fellow American abroad, I noticed that we would become instant best friends and talk nonstop as if we’d known each other for years. But the truth is, we’d only just met.
But because we were both strangers traveling through a foreign country, we instantly bonded because we had an immediate understanding of each other through our identity as American citizens. We had a common background of culture, customs, and worldviews, that didn’t need to be explained, it was something we just knew because our identity is rooted in our mutual country of residence.
It’s the same way for our heavenly citizenship.
Instead of our identity being defined by the color of our passport, now our identity is defined by who we are in Jesus.
For those of you who have put your faith in Jesus Christ, your nationality does not define you, Jesus does.
When you run into a fellow Christian, it’s like you’ve immediately found some sort of common ground with that person.
You’ve found another citizen of heaven.
You’ve found someone who understands why you believe the way you believe, and why you live the way you live.
I’ve even found that instant “best friend” connection with fellow believers in Christ, just like I felt when traveling abroad. I’ve found myself excitedly sharing all of the wonderful things Jesus has done in my life and then welling up with tears hearing about how He has worked powerfully in someone else’s life.
It’s a connection that transcends culture, political views, race, or even country. It’s a connection of being a brother or sister in Christ and being spiritually reborn into the Family of God.
This connection is stronger than any other.
It’s a shared eternal allegiance. But instead of it being to a flag, state, or country, it’s to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our Citizenship is in Heaven Meaning
So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what our citizenship in heaven means.
To begin, we’re first going to define what a citizen is:
A citizen is a person who legally belongs to a country and has the rights and protection of that country.
You see, citizenship is a two-fold agreement.
For citizenship to any country there are:
- Rules and laws of the country that you must follow (and in return you are given)
- Irrevocable rights and a certain level of protection
For example, if you are a citizen of the United States, there are certain rules and laws of the country that you must follow. At the same time there are irrevocable rights and a certain level of protection that you are given simply because the US is where your citizenship lies.
So, how does this apply to our heavenly citizenship?
Well, the Bible tells us that as believers in Jesus Christ, we are now citizens of heaven.
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.”
Philippians 3:20 (NLT)
Even though every human being has been born into this world, all believers have been reborn spiritually into the Kingdom of Heaven.
“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.””
John 3:3 (NLT)
This means that as a citizen of heaven we now follow a different set of rules and laws. We are called to live our life in accordance to the laws of heaven, which is where our true citizenship lies, and not according to the world we live in.
1. Rules Around Seeking Revenge
The world’s rulebook says: If someone has wronged you, don’t get mad, get even.
The rulebook of the Lord says: Love your enemies, pray for those who have wronged you. Do not seek revenge when you have been wronged because revenge is not for you, but is for the Lord.
“Never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.”
Romans 12:19 (NLT)
2. Rules Around Money
The world’s rulebook says: Money doesn’t grow on trees, it’s up to you and only you to make it happen.
The rulebook of heaven says: Money is no object to the Lord.
Here’s a classic example from Matthew 17:27 where a money just appeared out of a fish’s mouth:
“Go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”
Matthew 17:27 (NLT)
The Bible also says it is the Lord who blesses you and gives you the ability to produce wealth.
“But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth”
Deuteronomy 8:18 (NIV)
3. Rules About Getting Ahead in Life
The world’s rule book says: It’s a doggy dog world out there, (meaning it’s ruthless and competitive). You do what you gotta do to get ahead even to the point of putting yourself first above everyone else.
The rulebook of God says: Stay humble and wait upon the Lord and He will raise you up when the time is right.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”
1 Peter 5:6 (NIV)
4. Rules About Dreaming Big
The world’s rulebook says: Be realistic. Big dreams are a waste of time and will only lead to disappointment.
God’s rulebook says: With man it is impossible, but with God anything is possible.
“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.””
Matthew 19:26 (NIV)
You see, the Kingdom of Heaven follows a different set of rules and beliefs that are at odds with the world we are currently living. Yet, when it comes to how we are to live our life, we called to live in accordance to our heavenly citizenship, not our earthly citizenship.
So, how on earth (pun intended!) do we reconcile these two worlds?
We are Citizens of Heaven
Well, we are actually given guidance on this in the Book of Romans. In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us that in order to live out our heavenly citizenship, we are to not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
We do this by thinking about heavenly things instead of the things of this world.
We are to set our minds on things above (aka the things of God) and not on earthly things.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Colossians 3:2 (NIV)
When we set our minds on the things of God, it is then that the Holy Spirit transforms our heart so that it is patterned after God, and not after the world.
All of a sudden, you’ll find that what’s important to God will become important to you.
Instead of chasing after worldly things like money, power, success, or popularity, the Holy Spirit will transform your heart so it chases after the things of God.
So, even though we are not in heaven yet, we are called to behave like citizens of heaven even though we are still living on earth.
This means that everything about the way we are called to live our life will feel like it’s in opposition to the way the world lives. That’s why it is such a blessing that we have the Holy Spirit helping us to live a life that reflects the heart of God.
Let’s recap what it means for our citizenship to be in heaven:
- When you gave your life to Christ, you were automatically made a citizen of heaven.
- Every believer has been reborn spiritually into the Kingdom of Heaven.
- Your heavenly citizenship is not defined by the color of our passport, but instead is defined by who you are in Christ.
- Citizenship is a two-fold agreement. If you follow the laws of the land, you receive irrevocable rights, privileges, and a certain level of protection.
- Believers are called to live our life in accordance to the laws of heaven, not according to the world we live in.
- We live out our heavenly citizenship by setting our minds on the things of God, and not the things of this world.
Did this post help you understand your heavenly citizenship? Let me know in the comments below!
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