COVID-19 and Citizenship

By Greg & Michelle 

We are sure we can speak for all of us in saying that last several weeks have been surreal. The Coronavirus has upended life as we knew it. Every aspect of our lives has been impacted: work, grocery shopping, church, school, meeting with friends, and the list goes on. With all that is happening, there is no question that Satan would like to use these circumstances to take our eyes off of Jesus. He would like nothing more than to distract us from what God has planned for this time. And as we know, Satan’s favorite tactic is to lie to us. The questions we should be asking, both now and always, is: “Where am I vulnerable to believing Satan’s lies instead of God’s Truth? And how does God’s Truth dispel the lie?” Remember…knowing the Truth makes us free! (John 8:32). This is true in both an immediate (salvation) sense, as well as a more long-term-process (sanctification) sense. In the middle of this pandemic, let’s take a step towards Truth!

A question of citizenship…

With citizenship comes a feeling of belonging. We find identity, purpose, and adequacy in the place of our citizenship. At some level, we believers know that our citizenship is in Heaven. But in daily life, we often – even without realizing it – look for this belonging in earthly places: our job and workplace, our role as parent and teacher of our children, our churches, our volunteer groups, our small groups, our friends, and again, the list goes on.

What lies is Satan telling you? Is he reminding you of your earthly citizenship?

As we become connected in our earthly citizenship, we often slowly lower our eyes to things we can touch and see around us. Sometimes that takes a seemingly positive spin. We are praised for our volunteer efforts, commended for our work with youth at church, or given a raise at work. It is subtle, and may seem harmless, but Satan is there to offer his input… “Look at what you did! You really proved yourself this time!” But even in believing those “positive” things, our attention is put on our earthly citizenship, and our awareness of our heavenly citizenship is lessened. It is, perhaps, easier to identify the shift that has occurred when something difficult happens. Our boss criticizes our work; an onlooker scowls as we parent our children; a friend makes a joke about us that is a little too true. In all of these, Satan can step in and whisper…“See? They know who you really are.”

When life is going well, we move forward with confidence and assurance as we pursue His will. However, as we experience cracks or failures or disappointments, we often begin to realize that we had more at stake in our earthly citizenship than we had intended. Doubt, discouragement, hopelessness, and often sin, creep into our thinking.

Know the truth!

The truth sets us free from this lie! “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;” Philippians 3:20. This is powerful. God is telling us through this that we need to lift our eyes and stay focused on our true citizenship in Heaven. As citizens of Heaven, here are some things we know to be true:
  • We have birthright in the family of God. We belong to the family and NOTHING can change that! “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12) “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,”
  • God made us. He has a plan and a purpose for us! “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
  • In Christ, we are adequate for the things He asks us to do! “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6.

We belong. We have purpose. You have an everlasting citizenship in heaven with a King of great love and great power. Embrace this truth. Own it. Pray against the lies of the enemy. Allow God to tell you the truth about who you are and BELIEVE IT!

Now, with this truth in mind, let’s take the advice of Paul in Philippians 1:27. “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”. This means to live out our heavenly identity! As we do, we will experience joy and shine our light in our hurting, broken world. This gives glory to God and draws more to His family!

Please join us in praying. Pray for us as a church and the broader church. Pray that we would lean into our citizenship in Heaven. Ask, expectantly, that our Father use us to be light in the world and bring more people to Him.

Special thanks to Scot Pollok’s Philippians sermons and our mentor Bill Yarger’s teachings that have greatly influenced these thoughts.

Discussion Questions
  1. In what ways is God using this situation to challenge an area(s) in your life where you are holding on too tightly to your earthly citizenship?
  2. How has God used this time to grow your understanding and ownership of your citizenship in Heaven?
  3. What areas in your life are you struggling to believe the Truth about what it means to be a citizen of Heaven?
  4. How do you see God using us to shine light in the world during this time? The goal here is to encourage each other with stories of how God is working and how we can share the gospel with others.
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