Citizens of Heaven

The other day I was trying to convey to St Luke’s the reality of our Heavenly citizenship. I pointed to my briefcase.

‘Over there, in my briefcase, is my passport. Now, I carry it with me because occasionally I travel overseas. I once got to the check-in desk and discovered that I had left my passport behind – not one of my most glorious moments!' But the fact is I very rarely require it in this country. Why not? - Because I belong here. I live here and I never need to prove who I am because I am a citizen of Britain. However, it is crucial that I have it with me when I’m in another country. In the United States, it is a vital necessity and even in the European Union it is still very important that I be able to prove who I am.

In the same way, I am a Citizen of Heaven. When I pass through the doorway of death into the Eternal Realm I will not need to prove identity since it is already known I am already a citizen of Heaven, though I am currently living in a foreign country here on planet earth which is at present under the government of an invading power, the power of darkness. But I am a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven and that is true wherever I go.'

However, I am not only a citizen. I am also an ambassador of Christ. There is another one of those present continuous verbs attached describing the way we live ‘God himself beseeching you through us’. That is the way we live. We are ambassadors of Christ. An ambassador is an officially recognised, delegated servant and representative of a sovereign power in the territory of another power. He represents the kingdom that he serves. In fact, it is embodied in him. Any offence against an ambassador is an offence against the kingdom he represents. Jesus was a supreme example of such an ambassador and in killing him; the enemy laid himself open to disaster because an ambassador should be inviolate. A nation that kills an ambassador is declaring war on the kingdom he represents. When the enemy declared war on Heaven, he ensured his own downfall. He also took away any legal standing he might have had as a challenger to God’s throne.

Now, if we are ambassadors, we are representatives of the sovereign state of Heaven and we represent the Most High God. Better than that, the ambassador resides in the Embassy and the Embassy is not the territory of the country in which it is placed. It is the sovereign territory of the country it represents. The moment I enter a British Embassy in any part of the world, I am on British territory. It is the sovereign territory of Her Majesty the Queen and of her Government.

Is it possible for us to begin to realise that if we are ambassadors then our homes are embassies. They are the sovereign territory of the Most High God. That’s an exciting thought. When a whole bunch of ambassadors come together to worship God in what we call, rather boringly, ‘Church’, is that not then an extremely powerful embassy of the Kingdom? Because they all being built together are forming a single body, a place of residence for the King in enemy territory. Finally, is it not possible therefore that the building in which that Temple of God usually meets also becomes imbued with that sense of being the sovereign territory of Heaven? That will explain why some of our church buildings retain an atmosphere almost of that breathless anticipation, a sense of holiness.

I have learnt so much from a family that have recently joined us at St Luke’s. Chris said to me the other day ‘I love being in this place. It’s different from everywhere else I go. I love it when I’m here and when I have to leave, I know it’s different out there.’ There is something important right there. The building somehow or other is sanctified by the use to which it is put by the Body of Christ.

We are that Body. We are that building. So, I guess in a sense we are not just ambassadors, but we are walking embassies, sovereign territory of the King of Kings. Now that’s a thought!

Let me know what you think...