Our concern in this article is not that of being a good citizen on the United States of America, though if the responsibilities and obligations presented were followed, they would certainly build this nation to be stronger than she presently is. Our concern is with being citizens of the kingdom of God, the spiritual nation of Israel. There are many privileges in having citizenship in the United States and in like manner there are many privileges in having citizenship in the kingdom of God. However, it has been said that along with privilege and freedom comes responsibilities. We wish to consider some of these responsibilities.
First one has the responsibility to conform to all the laws of the kingdom. This is true in the realm of physical nations such as the one in which we live. These laws must be respected and conformed to, including the requirements to becoming a citizen of the kingdom in the first place. In the Lord’s kingdom, there is no amnesty. There will be no relinquishing of the laws that one did not meet in the past concerning entering into the kingdom. The Hebrew writer said, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). The same acts and actions that puts on into Christ where salvation is, adds that same individual to the kingdom. Paul wrote, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26-29). To the Romans Paul wrote, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4). Paul told the Colossians, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). But, obedience to the laws of the kingdom do not end at the point of obtaining citizenship. We must continue to follow those laws throughout our life. Paul told the Romans, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). As he told Timothy, “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (II Tim. 2:5).
A second responsibility or obligation one has to the kingdom is to contribute to the success of the kingdom. This is of course true in the physical realm. Taxes are collected in our nation in order for the nation to be able to function and do the work it has to do. It is also true in the realm of God’s kingdom. Each citizen must be actively involved in efforts to build the nation, rather than either being leaches trying to suck out of it all they can or out and out advocates of destruction, doing all they can to undermine the stability of the nation. Paul said that concerning the kingdom of God, we are to “be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58). There are basically two realms in which we must contribute to the success of the kingdom. There is a financial obligation that we have to give as we have prospered (I Cor. 1:2) and as we have purposed (II Cor. 9:7). Malachi said that he who did not give to God as required by the law under which he lived was robbing from God (Mal. 3:8). The second realm in which we must contribute is that of physical activity. Generally there are three such activities that a citizen of the kingdom must be involved in: to teach the word to others in an effort to convert them to the truth of the gospel and the kingdom of God (Mark 16:15); take care of those in physical need as we have opportunity (James 1:27; Gal. 6:10); and to help build and exhort our fellow citizens (Heb. 3:13).
A third and final responsibility that we will discuss briefly is that of contending for it. Contend can be defined as to defend as in battle. In the physical realm, many have joined the armed forces both in times of peace and in times of war. We are not advocating physical violence in God’s kingdom. In the early days of the Moslem religion, the motto of Mohammed was, “Islam or the sword”, but that is not God’s way. Jude said, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The apostle Paul said, “…knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:17). Some seem to be offended if one asks them to prove anything about the religious beliefs and practices they have. Peter said, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to ever man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…”(I Pet. 3:15).
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