Day 4: Citizens for Christ

4 May 2022

3.2 MINS


Christians have dual obligations as earthly citizens and heavenly citizens


“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body,
by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”
— Philippians 3:20-21


Amidst an election campaign, when the level of grace and truth-telling falls to even lower ebbs than usual, it is good for Christians to reflect on their standing before God.

The first thing to note is that a Christian’s citizenship is in heaven.  If we are Christ’s, we belong to a heavenly community. The Roman citizen had a number of privileges, as Paul knew well, being a Roman citizen himself. Citizens could vote for the Senate if they were in Rome; they were free from degrading forms of punishment (Acts 16:19-40; 22:25-29); and, if need be, they could appeal to the emperor in Rome (Acts 25:10-12).

The Christian has far greater privileges. All the saints down through the ages have been citizens of heaven (Heb.11:16; Col.3:1-3). Christians are strangers and pilgrims here — citizens of another country.

Citizens of Australia have the privileges and the responsibilities that accompany citizenship, yet Christians are more than Australian citizens or Roman citizens. As the ancient Epistle to Diognetus puts it, ‘For [Christians], any foreign country is a motherland, and any motherland is a foreign country.

Secondly, Paul tells us that the Saviour, who is also Lord, will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body. In 48 B.C., Julius Caesar claimed to be the general saviour of mankind, and the emperors soon referred to themselves as ‘Lord’ and ‘Saviour’. But Christians know the true Lord and Saviour, who died for sinners, rose and ascended to heaven, and will come again.

What will He do then? He will transform our lowly body and make it like His glorious resurrection body. (see 1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

A creepy-crawly caterpillar is just a grub, but it is transformed into a beautiful butterfly. That is only a small picture of the transformation that Christ’s resurrection power will bring to His people.

Thirdly, we might naturally ask, ‘How can Christ carry out His promise?’ It is ‘by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself’. If someone promises you a million dollars, you would want to know that he had a million dollars (and a bit more). Christ makes far greater promises, but He has all power, all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).

In His earthly ministry, we see His power over sickness (Mark 1:29-31), demons (Mark 5:1-13), nature (Mark 4:39-41), death (Luke 8:49, 54-55; John 10:17-18; 11:1-44), and sin (Mark 2:5, 10). People make all sorts of promises and they do not necessarily come up with the goods. But Christ makes the greatest promise of all, and He will come up with the goods.

In Philippians 2:6-8, Paul says that Christ became like us; in Philippians 3:20-21 he says that this was so that we might become like Christ. Christ left glory to take on humiliation that we might leave humiliation to take on glory.



Our gracious Father,
You have provided a kingdom that will never end under the kingship of Your eternal Son, our Lord. May all our hopes and desires be centred on Him. May we see all earthly kingdoms through that prism. In serving You with faith here on earth, may it be clear to all that we are citizens of a greater kingdom — one which will culminate in a new heaven and a new earth, without sin, misery, or death.

Author Bio

Rev. Dr Peter Barnes is the Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. He is also the editor of AP, the National Journal of the Presbyterian Church of Australia (PCA), for which he also regularly writes.

21 Days Prayer Points

  1. Pray that God would rule over this election, that righteous leaders would be elected to govern this nation in truth and justice because, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” Proverbs 29:2
  2. Pray God’s blessing upon all our current parliamentarians and leaders, including their families and all the candidates of all the parties standing for this federal election. 1 Timothy 2:1-3
  3. Pray for a multiplication of prayer and unity across the Body of Christ in Australia, that people will wake up to the dangers facing our nation and respond in prayer. Ephesians 5:14
  4. Pray for a Revival for Australia, Spiritual Awakening and Transformation for our nation, and the proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16

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One Comment

  1. Kaylene Emery 5 May 2022 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your work Peter.

    May He grant each one of us strength to finish our own, individual journey.. as we pray n worship as His family. May He continue to grant discernment at every cross road, during each moment of each day.
    Blessings to you n yours.

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