Your Fellow Citizenship

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

Have you ever been present when people become citizens of a country? Perhaps you were an immigrant who became a citizen of a country. Or perhaps you attended a naturalization ceremony in support of a friend or family member. I have never been present for such an event, but I have watched snippets on television and the Internet as people take the Oath of Allegiance and become citizens of the United States. They proclaim their allegiance to this country with such obvious pride and sense of accomplishment. Their entry into citizenship is often complemented with tears of joy.

Honestly, I find myself tearing up as well when I watch strangers become citizens of my country. Why does this move my heart? There are many reasons, but one is that they are not just citizens of a country. They are my fellow citizens. Though I will probably never meet them, we share something profound. We are part of something that is bigger than ourselves. We are connected in deep and meaningful ways.

Ephesians 2:19 reveals that we Gentiles have become "fellow citizens with God's people." Once we were "separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world" (2:12). But now, because of what God has done through Jesus Christ and his reconciling death, we who were once excluded from God's people have become "fellow citizens." The Greek word used here is not the ordinary word for citizen (polites), but a compound word that emphasizes the "fellow" part of our citizenship (sumpolites). We belong, not just to God, and not just to his kingdom in some abstract sense, but to the community of our fellow citizens. Ephesians 2:19 underscores the relational quality of our citizenship by adding, "you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household." We are also God's relatives, members of his family.

In a day when "spiritual" people are less and less inclined to be actively involved in any religious community, when millions of Christians seem satisfied to remain disconnected from God's people, we need to hear the good news of Ephesians 2:19 and consider the implications for our lives. Because of Christ, you are a fellow citizen with God's people. You belong, not just to God, but to the community of those who have pledged their allegiance to God through Christ. Are you living out this truth? Are you an active, engaged citizen, sharing life and mission with your fellow citizens?

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Let me encourage you to consider the questions I have just raised. If you are not deeply connected to and involved with God's people, why not? What might God be saying to you today through his word?

PRAYER: Thank you, my God and King, for welcoming me as a citizen of your kingdom. Thank you for receiving me into citizenship, not all by myself, but as one of many fellow citizens. Help me, Lord, to live fully as a fellow citizen. May I share life and ministry with your people. May I offer myself in service to them, and with them in service to the world. Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.