Kingdom People: Resident Aliens

Resident aliens are common to earthly kingdoms.  A resident alien is a person who resides in a nation where he is not a citizen.  There are many reasons one may choose to live in a foreign country, but the most common are political and economic.  More specifically, people choose to live in foreign countries that offer a level of peace or prosperity not found in their own country.

Resident aliens do not enjoy all the privileges, nor do they have all the responsibilities, of citizenship.  They do not have the privilege of ruling with the king nor the obligation of defending the kingdom and giving their life for it, but they  may enjoy many of the blessings found in a the foreign country.

The kingdom of God, like earthly kingdoms, contains both citizens and aliens.  Jesus described the kingdom of God as a net cast into the sea that gathers fish of every kind, but it is only when the net is drawn onto the beach that the bad fish are thrown out. (Matt. 13:47-48).  The kingdom of God gathers within its earthly territory both citizens and aliens.  Jesus said He would gather the lawless and all stumbling blocks out of His kingdom. (Matt 13:41-43).

As I’ve suggested in other posts, these parables make no sense if one believes the kingdom of God is heaven or the Church because only believers are part of the Church and go to heaven.  However, if one understands the kingdom of God exists in space and time and has a geographic presence on the earth, one can see how it is possible for non-Christians to be “in the kingdom of God” (on earth) without being part of the Church or gaining entrance into heaven.

Resident aliens enjoy only limited privileges, rather than the full privileges of citizenship, by living under the earthly authority of the kingdom of God and its laws, but those benefits do not extend beyond death.  Aliens do not inherit the kingdom of God when they die.  (1 Cor 6:8-11).  That privilege is limited to citizens of the kingdom of God. Though aliens may be in the kingdom on earth, at death they are rooted up and thrown out. (Mathew 13:30, 49).

Resident aliens are often religious people who try to live according to the laws of the kingdom of God, but have never become a Christian, or they are sometimes people who don’t even pretend to be moral, but because they live under the authority of a citizen of the kingdom of God they fall within the territory of the kingdom.  A family member who is part of a household led by a Christian is a resident alien of the kingdom of God and can enjoy the earthly benefits that flow from the kingdom of God through the Christian who exercises the delegated authority of King Jesus in the household.

The kingdom of God is always seeking new citizens.  Overpopulation is not a concern in the kingdom of God.  As Jesus told His disciples, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” (John 14:2).  Resident aliens are the most likely candidates for citizenship, and one of the goals of the kingdom of God is to convert resident aliens into citizens.  Therefore, immigration is welcomed in the kingdom of God and resident aliens are an integral part of the kingdom of God.  GS

2 Benefits of Kingdom Citizenship

I’m a citizen of the United States of America.  Unfortunately, it’s something I too often take for granted.  There are benefits to citizenship.  Citzenship in the kingdom of God comes with certain benefits too.  Here are two of them:

1.  Delegated authority.  In earthly kingdoms, the status of citizenship is necessary to identify  persons who will be loyal to the king so the king can know with whom he can share power.  In the Roman Empire one had to be a citizen to vote and hold political office.  In Ancient Greece one had to be a citizen of their city-state to participate in the Assembly that met to make decisions regarding the affairs of state.  In modern democracies one must be a citizen to vote or participate in governing the kingdom.  This is not by mere coincidence.  Citizenship helps identify those who are loyal to the king, and the king needs to know who is loyal so he can know to whom he can delegate authority.

It’s no different in the kingdom of God.  Citizenship in the kingdom is reserved for those who have been born again (John 3:5-8) and have believed and confessed Jesus’ Lordship over their lives. (Rom. 10:9).  One who is not born of the Spirit cannot hear the voice of the King who rules from the spirit realm.  And one who has not acknowledged Jesus’ Lordship is not likely to obey what King Jesus orders.  So, both are necessary.  God is not parsimonious about sharing rulership with those who serve Him, but one must be a citizen to be delegated authority from the King.

2.     Inheritance rights.  The kingdom of God has both a spiritual and earthly dimension and is woven seamlessly into the fabric of realty.  When one is born again, one becomes a citizen of the kingdom, with full privileges in both the spiritual and earthly realms and can begin to function in both. One who is birthed spiritually gains entrance to the spiritual part of the kingdom as well as the earthly part of it.  Because the kingdom has a spiritual dimension, when a citizen of the kingdom dies he continues in eternal life in the spiritual realm of the kingdom known as heaven.  By contrast those who are not citizens of the kingdom, do not inherit the kingdom at their death.  Cf  1 Cor. 6:9 (“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”).  Although they can live under the covering of the kingdom of God while on earth, at death they do not inherit, but are taken out of the kingdom.  (Matthew 13:30, 49).

Too many Christians only consider their inheritance rights, never realizing that a citizen of the kingdom of God they can also share in the delegated authority of King Jesus.  GS

The Role of Citizenship in the Kingdom

Earthy kings must have a way to distinguish between those who will be loyal to theire earthly kingdom. This is necessary, among other reasons, so the earthly ruler can know to whom he can delegate power. The most common earthly means of making this determination is by citizenship. And the most common tests for citizenship are birth and an oath. It was true in first century when Jesus was teaching about the kingdom and it is true today.

For example, if you are born in the United States you are automatically a citizen. If you weren’t born in the United States you can still become a citizen by confessing your loyalty by means of an oath. Initially, both may seem arbitrary, but they are actually good tests.  Birth has traditionally been a basis for citizenship because it rests on the assumption that those who are dependant upon the land of a kingdom for their survival have an interest in protecting it. Oaths are an indication of what is in a person’s heart. Sure they can be faked, but until governments learn to read minds oaths are the next best thing.

Interestingly, one becomes a citizen of the kingdom of God by both a birth and an oath. First, one must be born again. John 3:5 (“Unless one is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”). Second, one must give an oath. Romans 10:9 (“…for if you confess with you mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved…”).

Just as in earthly kingdoms, birth and oath are an indicia of loyalty to the kingdom of God. That demonstrated loyalty paves the way for King Jesus to share his rule with his citizens by delegating authority to them. But more on that later.  GS