Kingdom Citizens

Kingdom Citizens
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel”- Philippians 1:27

As an ambassador, an individual represents a whole nation. That person is expected to act in a certain manner and have a certain pride for his country. Roman citizens in the first century, particularly those of military background, were expected to live, talk, and carry themselves in a particular manner as representatives of the Empire. This included many in the Philippian church.

In Philippians 1:27, Paul used the single Greek word politeuomai which is translated as the phrase let your manner of life be. The original word carries the idea of an obligation of a citizen to action. As Christians, we are citizens of God's kingdom, meaning we have an obligation to live a life properly representing the Gospel. Paul reminds the Philippians of this duty, a duty that all of us have as believers in Christ. Often, we can feel torn between worlds, dealing with a sense of obligation toward something or someone else and God's kingdom. The Philippians probably felt the same, but Paul reminded them that, whether in his presence or not, they should act a certain way as kingdom citizens.

Firstly, we walk as kingdom citizens when we seek a good reputation. Paul wanted to hear of the Philippians and all they were doing. Our character can affect the spread of the Gospel, and our actions always impact the believability of our words. Wisdom dictates that “a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1).” We cannot expect people to listen to the message if our lives misrepresent it. So, we seek a good reputation by living out biblical morals.

Secondly, we walk as kingdom citizens when we stand fast in unity. Because of the military background of Philippi, Paul uses military terms to describe the actions that should be seen from the Philippians. When facing the enemy across the field of battle, the Romans would line up in a shield wall to protect each other in battle – they were a unified unit. If soldiers were staggered at different places, the shield wall would fail, the soldiers unable to rely on each other. The enemy would easily break through. Because we represent the same Gospel, we need to stand firm like soldiers, unified in our representation of God's kingdom.

Thirdly, we walk as kingdom citizens when we strive together. Paul continues with the military example. As soldiers move together across the field of battle in lockstep, with single purpose, so also are we to be of singular purpose, of "one mind." Our purpose is to spread the Gospel as kingdom citizens. No division can be taken onto the field of battle without negative results. We must strive together in unity, always protecting the soldier next to us in our fight. When a believer is in the midst of battle, we who are in Christ are to fight alongside them.

As kingdom citizens we are obligated to live a life "worthy of the Gospel." This is difficult. But as Christ's representatives, we are to keep a good reputation, stand together, and move forward with one purpose. All we do is for the glory of God and the spread of His message.

How good of a citizen have you been? What does your reputation look like? Are you divided from the brethren or working together? Are we properly representing the Gospel in our lives?