Citizenship and Identity
Citizenship and Identity
What do you think of when you hear the word citizenship? Are you a citizen of the U.S.? Another country? Maybe dual citizenship? Have you ever considered being a citizen of another or different country? During an election year in the U.S., citizenship certainly can carry many meanings, connotations, and emotions.
Most people think of citizenship in the context of those questions, and understandably so. As part of the citizenship ministry, we teach people what they need to know to pass the test required to become a U.S. citizen. By design, most of them are immigrants or refugees and are not Christians. Their identity is often wrapped in their culture, background, family, and even literal citizenship. As part of the evangelistic aspect of the ministry, we try wrapping the concept of citizenship into our faith through bible stories, prayer, and the content of the classes. As a Christian though, how do we and should we define our citizenship and identity?
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20)
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19)
Is it okay to be a worldly citizen? Of course. The bible also tells us to be subject to governing authorities (Romans 13:1), so your worldly citizenship can impact your livelihood and how the Spirit uses you. Is our country-citizenship our identity as God’s people? Absolutely not. As Christians we are kingdom citizens, and that’s eternal:
“But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13)
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from this world’” (John 18:36)
This is great news for us, but it is also great news for those who do not have citizenship in God’s kingdom. The citizenship ministry is constructed so that we can share that good news and model it for our students. We continually pray for God’s saving grace to provide them that “citizenship” and turn them toward Jesus. We’ve seen/heard of God working through the students and their children in many ways including: having dreams, desiring to learn about the Bible, asking questions about our faith, and more! Maybe they’ll become U.S. citizens sometime soon and that’s great (some of them have). But more importantly, maybe they’ll no longer be “strangers and aliens” but fellow citizens of the kingdom of God. Even as a Christian, I strive to consistently live in light of my true citizenship. Knowing that and living by it can make all the difference.
If you would like more information about volunteering with the citizenship class, please contact Joy (Joy@waypointrdu.com).