We talked last week about Paul’s peculiar testimony. In Acts 22, he shared the outrageous story of his conversion with the religious leaders who brought him in for questioning. The folks in charge were not too happy with Paul’s comment that God had sent him to minister to the Gentiles (i.e., non-Jews), and they ordered him to be flogged.
Paul cooperated and let them stretch him out and chain him up to prepare for his flogging, then he turned to the guy strapping him down and casually asked if it was legal to flog a Roman citizen who had not been proven guilty. The stunned guards were terrified. They could have gotten into big trouble for beating a Roman citizen!
They tattled to the commander who came and questioned Paul about his citizenship (verses 27-29). The commander made the smart-aleck retort: “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship,” as if flaunting his wealth would trick Paul into admitting that he was lying about being a Roman citizen. Paul answered him simply, “But I was born a citizen.” Back in those days, being a Roman citizen carried with it special privileges, and the commander was rightfully frightened about the possible repercussions for having put Paul in chains.
As for us, I would venture a guess that most of us were born on American soil and gained our citizenship by birth. Others waited, studied, waited some more and then took a test to earn citizenship by naturalization. The latter way is expensive and takes a lot of time and effort. The naturalization process carries most of the perks of citizenship, but birth citizens still have more privileges—like the ability to run for President.
I am proud of and thankful for my American citizenship, but what about our heavenly citizenship? What is it worth? Is it worth the time, effort and potential backlash to let the world know that we’re followers of Christ? This story in Acts 22 was just the tip of the iceberg for Paul; he spent much time in prison and getting beaten up for the sake of the gospel. What is heavenly citizenship worth to you? It was worth more than life to Paul.
Originally posted August 21, 2011