But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
My explanation as to why I don’t pledge allegiance at the few meetings I go that require it is that the first time I was born I became an American citizen because my mother was an American, but then in 1971 I was born again and I am now a Kingdom of God citizen. Please think of me as a foreigner, or resident alien.
Paul though a Jew was a citizen of Rome and used his Roman citizenship to procure whatever rights had been violated to fulfill his calling as an apostle to the gentiles through the gospel of Christ. He was also an Israelite through and through as is attested at the beginning of the passage above (click link).
Most everyone and every professing Christian and follower of Christ has some kind of earthly citizenship or tribal belonging. Paul makes it clear here that followers of Christ strictly speaking have only one citizenship, that of “heaven.” And that Jesus’s followers await his return, the time when all the promises of God and blessings that come with that will be fully realized.
There are perhaps Christ-followers attached to a Christendom which ties church and state together so that part of their faith is more or less tied to a national entity such as the United States, or whatever other nation. But is that the faith or gospel that Jesus brought, or Paul or others taught? Would Paul have fought for Rome or advised gentile Roman citizen Christ-followers to do so? From what we read in his letters and in Acts along with church history, the answer from the first three centuries is plain. No!
Christ-followers should always hope and pray, advocate and work for the good of whatever nation-state they live in (see Jeremiah 29). But their allegiance is to one Lord only, and their hope for themselves and for the world is in one Savior only. But in a salvation active in the world now by the Spirit of God in Christ’s body, the church. The life to come present now through this body shown in good works for the true good of all with an emphasis on justice for the poor and oppressed, the bereaved and the marginalized. Works very much down to earth like serving on a public-school board perhaps in the inner city and advocating for needed systemic change such as addressing underlying causes of poverty and the problems that come with it.
The source of all of that from where true life lies: the reconciling love of God present in Jesus. A life to restore our full humanity and all of creation in the new creation in Jesus, beginning even now. As we Christ followers in our works together anticipate and await Christ’s return which will bring God’s good final judgment and universal salvation. In and through Jesus.