Citizens of a New Kingdom
“So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people.” – Ephesians 2:19-20 (NLT)
Have you ever been the “newbie” in a place – maybe because you joined a club, moved to a different city, or got a new job?
Maybe it was difficult at first to adapt to the new culture you found yourself in, and you struggled to fit in. You had to try new things at first—things which put you slightly out of your comfort zone.
Yet over time, you adapted and found a new identity in that place. You moved from ‘newbie’ to trusted member, new hire to colleague, immigrant to citizen. You finally felt like you were part of the group.
As Christians, we’ve always had a curious identity in the places we live. From the beginning of the early church, it was the Christians who found themselves the ‘newbies’ and strangers.
They were persecuted for their faith for hundreds of years under the Roman empire. Even today, the Christian church continues to thrive underground in the Middle East and Asia, despite intense persecution.
And perhaps you’ve felt like a stranger as a follower of Jesus. You had to explain to your friends, who aren’t Christians, why you don’t go out and party with them on the weekends. You don’t contribute to the gossip mill at work, even though everyone around you spreads news about each other every day. You turned down that shady deal, because you follow a different set of business ethics.
Christians are strangers, foreigners, wanderers, and yes—newbies. Yet, strangely, this is a beautiful picture of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. You’re set apart, never entirely part of the place you find yourself. Because you follow a different set of rules and a different way of living.
Ephesians says, as followers of Jesus, we’re citizens of a different kingdom. It’s a kingdom not defined by your background, race, socioeconomic status, or family history. Instead, your belonging to this kingdom is determined by one thing. Are you a follower of Jesus?
As your new pastor, it would be easy for me to assume that I’m a ‘newbie’ to the Calvary family. One day, I might feel like an insider—like I belong. But not so, because I’m reminded of the promises of Ephesians. We belong together as citizens of a new kingdom.
And while it’s true that we’ll continue growing closer in our friendships as we journey together, we’re already united in a way that no nationality, club or organization can offer. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ. We are no longer strangers or foreigners, but a family united by our citizenship in God’s kingdom.
The name attached to this kinship—be it unity in the Holy Spirit, being brothers and sisters in Christ, etc.—confers on us all the traditions and expectations of being family.
I’ve already experienced that in an incredible way. I can’t thank you enough for the welcome you’ve extended to us during our transition to Stockton. From the meals, to the encouraging notes, to the small favors—you’ve embodied what it means to be a family of Christ.
And I look forward to the future traditions we will enjoy. I can’t wait to share meals around a table, spend time together, laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
But most of all, I look forward to seeing our family grow, as more people become brothers and sisters along with us in God’s Kingdom.