Read Acts 16
Focus on verse 37-39
As a Canadian citizen, living in the United States, I am often asked whether I will ever become an American citizen. My answer has been fairly consistent. I would consider becoming an American citizen if I could do so without having to renounce my Canadian citizenship. The reason I value my Canadian citizenship is simply that if I ever were to travel in Europe or Asia, I suspect it would be safer to travel under a Canadian passport. Aside from that, it really makes little difference to me what citizenship I carry for the remainder of my life, since ultimately my true citizenship is not of this world. Ever since the day I chose to place my trust in Jesus Christ as the One who died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for my sin and to purchase a place in heaven for me, I have counted myself a citizen of heaven.
In today’s reading, Luke records an account where we discover that Roman citizens had some perks as they traveled about the Roman Empire that other people did not have. Paul and Silas had been beaten by a mob, and thrown in prison for the night in the city of Philippi. God used their imprisonment to reach the jailor and possibly some of the other prisoners with the good news of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Apparently it was unlawful for officials to publicly beat and imprison Roman citizens, and Paul knew this.
But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. (v. 37-39)
This is the power of citizenship. It changes they way the law is applied to a person. Roman citizens, like citizens of the USA had privileges that non-citizens did not have. Similarly citizens of heaven have privileges that non-citizens do not have as well. Citizens of heaven will spend eternity with Jesus and God in heaven, while those who are not citizens will face potential judgment in accordance with their rejection of what Jesus Christ has done for them.