Rev. William Hessler
As residents of the United States, we take pride in our citizenship. We rise and proudly sing our national anthem before athletic contests. We put our hand over our heart and solemnly recite the Pledge of Allegiance at civic events. We stand at attention and remove our hats at parades as our nation’s flag passes by. We remind ourselves on Memorial Day and Veterans Day that our freedom came at a great price—the blood of the men and women in our Armed Forces down through the years who sacrificed so much for us. We celebrate our country’s independence with picnics, parades and fireworks every year on the Fourth of July.
Someday, however, our earthly citizenship will end in death, as it has for all the passionate patriots and concerned citizens of the United States who have gone before us. The freedoms and the privileges we enjoy in the “land of the free and the home of the brave” will all someday come to an end. That’s because, in the final analysis, we are but 𠇏oreigners and aliens” (cf. Ephesians 2:19), refugees living temporarily on this earth.
The apostle Paul reminds us that we are members of another kingdom: 𠇋ut our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20). This heavenly kingdom is not marked by earthly boundary lines or maintained by worldly powers. It’s a realm that transcends time and space, one ruled by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—who voluntarily shed His blood on Calvary’s cruel Cross and rose victoriously from the dead on Easter Sunday to secure our heavenly citizenship and that of all who put their FAITH and trust in Him.
Just as we have responsibilities as citizens of the United States, so we have kingdom obligations—ones we gladly assume. We gather regularly to hear and heed God’s Word (cf. Heb. 10:25); we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves (cf. Matt. 22:37-39); we willingly give of our time, talents and treasures to further the work of Christ’s Kingdom on earth (cf. 2 Cor. 9:7). Best of all, death will not terminate our citizenship in God’s Kingdom, for our King himself promises, “Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26).
Inscribed near the entrance of a cemetery in Okinawa, where many U. S. military personnel are buried, are these words: “We gave our today' in order that you might have your tomorrows.” Independence Day is a time to remember that much of what we enjoy in this temporal life has come to us through the service and sacrifice of others. The same is true of our heavenly citizenship. Jesus gave His today that we might have our tomorrows𠅏or eternity!