So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. –Ephesians 1:19-22
About nine years ago I moved to the UK from the United States. I was born and raised in the US but knew God had called me somewhere else in the world to live and minister. I knew this since I was nine years old. I met my British born husband at the USA Southern Territory Training College/Seminary. We were married two days after we were commissioned and ordained. We served eight years as officers/ministers in Florida. God called us to come to England to serve here in The Salvation Army. Within a year of visiting Mark’s mum and Gran, we were back here to serve. Three years later we became British officers and I became a British citizen.
When we first moved here to the UK, I had to learn how to speak and write English. As you know American English and proper English are very different. I also had to learn the differences of ministry as the Army is very different here in the UK than in America. I struggled at first, and for a while really struggled with depression wondering why we were called here. Mark of course was back in his element and felt right at home, except the ministry area. Things were very different.
I was an outsider. I was a stranger. A foreigner. I didn’t quite fit in. My accent was very thick and I could not hide that I was an American (still can’t although it has mellowed a lot in time). I loved the culture. I wanted to learn as much as I could so I could be a citizen. So I studied the information to become a permanent resident and then later a citizen. I was so proud the day I became a citizen and I am still very proud of becoming a Brit J
I no longer am a stranger. I am British. I am a part of a great nation. I am a citizen. I have the rights of a citizen, to vote, write to members of parliament, appreciate free health care, etc.
Many of my American friends were upset when I became a Brit. They were fussing about it and complained that I changed allegiance. The full truth of the matter is I always believed if you lived somewhere you need to learn the culture and become one with the people there. Also, I believe that my citizenship is heaven bound. Earthly citizenship is temporary, but my citizenship in Christ is far greater and eternal!
When we accepted Christ as our Saviour we became citizens of God’s family with all the rights and privileges of his inheritance and royalty. We are no longer strangers. “For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
We are members of God’s family. We are a part of his house! This house was built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets. Jesus mentioned this to Peter in the book of Matthew. “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).
Jesus is the cornerstone and the head of the church. We are each part of his body, becoming a holy temple for the Lord and a place for the Holy Spirit to dwell. I don’t know about you but this makes me excited. Christ not only cleansed us from our sins, he made us a part of him.
We are a part of a body that is interconnected with different gifts and abilities: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us” (1 Corinthians 12:4-5).
“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
When we give our lives to Jesus we are no longer our own. We belong to God. Our bodies become his temple as we become part of Christ’s body: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honour God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19- 20).
People will mock us. Just as people opposed me becoming a British citizen, people will oppose our ways of living as it is not (should not) be worldly. We are not of this world. We are called to be holy. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
I close with these words. May they challenge us as we live out our lives for Jesus. God bless you all.
WE ARE NOT JUST A PART OF CHRIST AS CHRISTIANS (CHRIST LIKE ONES), WE ARE CHRIST TO THE WORLD!