Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Canada"1 (Lyrics)
On this Canada Day, I think back to when our family became Canadian citizens. Having come to Canada from Singapore, which, at that time, was a British colony, we were British subjects, so transferring our citizenship to Canada, with its ties to Britain, was the natural next step. I wasn't aware of all the steps, but I do remember admiring the citizenship certificates that we received in the mail. Each of us had our own — my dad, my mum, my younger brother, and I. In flowing script, the certificate stated that we were "entitled to all the rights and privileges" of a Canadian citizen. It also said that we were "subject to all the responsibilities, obligations, and duties of a Canadian citizen". Although we children didn't understand all the implications, we could tell that our dad was now pleased to be a citizen of Canada.
My dad was glad to feel settled, to have the freedom to travel easily with a Canadian passport, and most importantly to him, to have a high quality of education available to his children. He was glad to belong and wanted to be at home in Canada. Although Canada was not his native land, it was the country that he chose to live in.
Hebrews 13:14 – For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. (NLT)
People are born and live in various places as their home and native land in this world, but for believers in Christ, these places are not really their home — they have chosen to belong to another country, the kingdom of God, a kingdom not of this world. They were reborn into this eternal kingdom the moment that they said "yes" to God. Many of us have taken this step.
1 Peter 2:11 – Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. (MSG)
In this verse, the King James Version uses the word "pilgrims" to describe Christ-followers, implying that we are on a journey to a holy place — heaven. We are not here permanently, but only as temporary residents. We can't get too cozy here, copying the culture around us. Our real loyalty is to the kingdom of heaven. The main privilege of this kingdom is eternal life — not only in the future, but a new quality of life beginning right away. Other privileges are the forgiveness of our sins and living in community with, and being supported by, other believers.
Colossians 3:2 – Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. (NLT)
We also have responsibilities in this kingdom. Our focus needs to be on eternal things, not only on pursuing temporal goals. Our biggest priority is to become like Jesus, by learning from His Word and learning from other Christians. Our mandate is to love one another and to tell others the good news, so that they, too, can belong.
Can we truly view God's kingdom as our home and native land? Can we value it as much as we value being citizens of a particular earthly country?
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the country that we live in. Thank You that we can also belong to Your eternal kingdom. Help us to take seriously not only the rights and privileges but also the obligations that we have as citizens of heaven. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.