I Declared My Independence

I Declared My Independence

On March 14 of this year, I declared my independence from the United Kingdom. Well… sort of. I took the Oath of Allegiance of the United States of America and became a U.S. citizen. It included the following words:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.”

It seems pretty clear that this would mean I would necessarily need to renounce my U.K. citizenship, right? However, the U.S. and U.K. allow you to maintain a dual citizenship status.

This got me thinking. The Apostle Paul was once asked, “‘Are you a Roman citizen?’ And he said, ‘Yes’.” (Acts 22:27) Yet, later, in his letter to the Philippians, he wrote that “our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:21) How can this be?

In his commentary on the book of Philippians, Ralph Martin writes:

The apostle here indicates the double allegiance of the Philippian Christians. As Roman subjects they are citizens of the far distant, capital city of Rome, where the emperor has his residence. As servants of ‘another king, one called Jesus’ (Acts 17:7), they are citizens of that capital city, where the King of kings has his domicile.[1]

In other words, the Philippian Christians, and by corollary, 21st-century U.S. Christians, are dual citizens, of both a heavenly, and an earthly kingdom (well, technically the U.S. isn’t a kingdom, but you get my point).

You might ask, how does this practically work? What happens if there are conflicting loyalties?

Martin goes on to write: “Here on earth, meanwhile, [the Philippian Christians] are resident aliens who dwell temporarily in a foreign country, but have their citizenship elsewhere (cf. Heb. 11:13; Jas 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:1; 2:11).”[2]

We are only temporarily citizens of the United States, but we are eternally citizens of heaven. Therefore, when there are conflicting loyalties, the eternal trumps the temporal. Our ultimate loyalty must lie with our allegiance the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.

And in this, we have a great hope. In this election year it can be easy to believe that our fate is in the hands of a group of people in Washington, D.C. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Our fate is in the hands of King Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of God the Father. At his name, every knee will bow and every tongue confess his true Lordship (Philippians 2:10-11). He reigns above all other names and powers.

So, fret not. “He who sits in the heavens laughs,” as Psalm 2 says, at the political machinations of earthly rulers. Our God is on the throne, we are ultimately subject to him, and he will return to bring his kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven.

Pastor Ellis

PS—We’re looking forward to giving you an update tomorrow on our fiscal year end, but in the meantime, please accept our heartfelt gratitude for your generosity. I’m so glad to get to partner together with you in our mission of exalting Jesus, elevating others, and launching disciple-makers.

[1]Ralph P. Martin, Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 11 of Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. IVP/Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 167.