Paul writes, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints” (Eph 2:19).
“Congratulations,” he says. “God has awarded you citizenship in his kingdom. All of its rights and privileges now belong to you. You were a citizen of the kingdom here on earth, and the devil was your king, but not anymore. Your citizenship is in heaven, and Christ is your King.”
Listen to the solemn warning which Paul gave the Philippians concerning false teachers. Notice the contrast he makes:
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:17-20)
Do you see the difference? Citizens of the earthly kingdom worship themselves. They set their minds on earthly things. The implication is that citizens of God’s kingdom worship the true King and set their minds on heavenly things.
More to the point, believers are citizens of the heavenly kingdom together. Paul is building a case for the practical exhortations he’ll give in Ephesians 4 where he says, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:1, 3). He goes on to describe how we are working together, always moving toward maturity and unity.
As fellow citizens of this kingdom, we depend on each other. We are working together to achieve the same end.
Earlier this year—maybe it was last year—I read a book called The Poverty of Nations where the authors explained how an impoverished nation could theoretically improve their circumstances. Personally, what I found most interesting was their description of the free market system. Using the example of a pencil, they described how many different industries and people are involved in creating a single pencil. It is surprising.
Millions of people are involved in producing pencils. Even after someone has figured out to use the various elements to create a pencil, others have to supply those elements. The graphite comes from Sri Lanka. The wood comes from Oregon. There’s also lacquer, carbon, brass, nickel, and rubber needed. People have to extract, produce, manufacture, deliver, sell—a lot goes into these convenient writing utensils that we never think twice about.
We are citizens of the same kingdom. Better yet, we are citizens of an eternal kingdom. We are saints together forever.