People who do not have a grounded understanding of who they are, are often depressed, lack motivation in life. They are anxious and can be paralyzed by fear.
Parents helping your children know who they are is one of the greatest gifts you can given them as they mature.
Given our times with the pandemic, the violent unrest in our nation and the concerns over the Presidential election and voting, there is a lot that feels very unstable. This series is in part not only to encourage us, but also to remind us of who we are in Christ. To stabilize us as followers of Jesus. If we forget who we are, then we don’t know how to live and that leads to fear, squabbling among ourselves and division.
If you are our neighbor, meaning you do not identify with Jesus, then let me share with you about who you are: You are beloved by God, you are treasured and God went to great lengths to demonstrate His love for you by sending Jesus. This is what Christians mean when they talk about the Good News of Jesus. Through Jesus you are offered to become adopted by God and become a member of His family. When you think of the ideal father figure, God is infinitely better. It is not something you can purchase through good works. It can only be received.
Anything you hear me share to the followers of Jesus this morning is open and available to you. We are not trying to hide anything about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We do not remind ourselves of who we are in Jesus to pat ourselves on the back. We have only received it ourselves. We are broken just like everyone else, but God is mending us and that is available to you in Jesus. We do it to remind ourselves of what God has done for us and the amazing calling God has given to us bring others into the family of God offered in Jesus.
What is a citizen?
We all long to belong somewhere, whether part of a group or a community. Anyone can easily feel lost in life when they do not have a sense of belonging.
Families have relationships with other families making a larger community. This larger community, where families are connected together, is sometimes called a kingdom or nation.
A person who has membership to a larger community of a kingdom or nation is what we call a citizen.
11-12 Non-citizens lacked peace
13-16 The Father made peace through Jesus
17-18 Given access to God
19 Non-Citizens are made citizens through Jesus
See also: Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 1:13-14
What are the benefits of being a citizen in the kingdom of heaven?
See Deuteronomy 28 for the benefits of citizenship in Israel.
· Completely Accepted and valued: beloved
· Part of a family that receives blessing and gives blessing
· Heavenly Father who provides and watches over you (Matthew 6)
· Participates in the joy of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (John 15)
· Live in Peace
· Access in the Spirit to the Father through the Son
What do citizens do?
· Citizens are culture-keepers
· Citizens preserve their kingdom’s/nation’s/country’s way of life.
· Citizens preserve by obeying the rules of their country or kingdom.
· Citizens look to preserve their culture at every level: family, community, education, arts, use of technology, elected and appointed government officials, and so on
When you wake up each morning, remind yourself of your citizenship, what kingdom you belong to.
No matter what country you’re from, there will always be a tension between your earthly nationality and your eternal nationality.
Examine yourself: Is your way of life reflective of the kingdom of America or the Kingdom of Heaven?
Are you seeking the peace (shalom) of your country?