“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” Ephesians 2:19
Let me tell you a story:
Once upon a time, in a small country, a baby girl was born to a family. This was all well enough in its own way, of course, but women were not thought of very highly in this country. The common belief was that girls were only good for cooking, cleaning, and raising children. Or, if they did work, any profit or benefit went not to them, but to their father, husband, or brothers, as the case may be. They received the fruits of their women’s labor as a matter of course, and treated the women indifferently at best, and not at all nicely at worst. Women couldn’t own property, and had no legal standing without their men. This was the situation our little girl was born into: the younger of the two children in the family, her older brother being several years older than she. And so her life began.
Meanwhile, far away in another, larger, and more prosperous country, a baby boy was born to a loving mother and father. He was their first child, so you can imagine their happiness. Our hero’s ancestors had come from the other country I have already mentioned, and he was in fact distantly related to the baby girl we just met, but the significance of that comes later. The distant ancestors however, were probably the only thing he had in common with his little relative. They both grew up speaking a different language, were both educated according to their families’ means and expectations, which meant she was educated adequately, while he was given every opportunity to advance himself. Whether he took advantage of these opportunities was up to him, because in his country both the men and women were considered to be equal citizens. If you wanted something, you worked for it; someone who was a pauper one year could be wealthy the next, by completely honest, legal, and ethical means. There were of course many paupers who became wealthy by means dishonest, illegal, and unethical; but if it weren’t so, this country would be considered heaven, (which it isn’t), and you my dear reader, wouldn’t believe my tale is true, which it is.
And so both children grew and learned about the world around them, both immediate and distant. The girl was very interested in the large, prosperous, and less discriminating country our young man was a citizen of, greatly desiring to live there, but with no way of making that dream a reality. This was something of a trial to her, but she bore it as best she could. Our young man also exhibited some interest in the country his ancestors had come from originally, determining to visit it and learn more about the people and culture from which his family had sprung. To that end, when he was grown, he traveled to the country of his origin, and by a little more than sheer happenstance (they were relatives after all), decided to stay with the family of which our young lady is a member. Now you recall my mentioning these two young people grew up speaking the languages of their respective countries, so of course in order to get by, our young man had to learn the language of the country he was visiting. He gained a passing knowledge of the local vernacular, which knowledge became more firmly rooted and less transient the more time he spent in the country, and incidentally with the young lady as well. He eventually came to love them both, though I think he loved the girl more. At least he asked for and was given permission to ask her to marry him if she liked, while I don’t think he ever asked to be made a citizen of the country. As for the girl’s side of it, she did like the young man, as well as the prospect of going with him to his country, the place she had wanted to go to for so long. So, they were married, and returned to his homeland.
And what a switch it was! Now the positions were reversed, and she was a foreigner in a strange country, with even less knowledge of her new husband’s language than he had of hers when he first came to stay with her family. There was also the small issue of something called “Immigration” that had to be dealt with, as well as all the unfamiliar nuances of a strange new culture. What was the poor girl to do? Why, quite simply, trust her husband. He patiently taught her to speak the language of her new country, as well as the in’s and out’s of the culture she was now a part of. And what of the governing powers of this large country? They were rather particular in not letting just any one into their country, and many had been forcibly expelled for being there without good reason, or worse, being there for very bad reasons. How was she to obtain citizenship in this new country? Again, her husband played a vital role in her successful transition into becoming a legal citizen of his glorious homeland. Since he had married her, she entered the country under his name; he was able to vouch for her character and reasons for being there, which were simply that he loved her and wanted her there. Maybe it wasn’t quite that simple, but the end result was the same. She was no longer a foreigner on the outside looking in at a country she wanted to be a part of; she was now a legal citizen of this new country, with the same legal standing as those who had been born there, with the same opportunities and benefits. And so they lived happily ever after – at least so far. For those of you wondering, this is a true story, like I said. The young man is my uncle, born here in United States of America, and the young lady is my aunt, who was born in Italy. Our family is Italian, which explains quite a lot about us if you know us. My aunt came straight from Italy after marrying my uncle, and has the accent to prove it.
So what does this have to do with Ephesians 2:19?
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”
I only realized these things over the past few years, but look at what Christ did to make us citizens of Heaven, and what that means. Because my uncle loved my aunt, he married her and brought her to a country where she could have the freedom to do as she pleased, to make her own decisions, to be protected by the laws of the land, to benefit from its prosperity, and where she could be treated as an equal with anyone else in the country. Christ has done somewhat the same for us, but immeasurably more, and infinitely better. We who have accepted his gift of salvation are free from the power of sin – able to truly choose to do right. We are reconciled to God the Father, so He looks at us and sees the righteousness of Christ, giving us right legal standing before Him, considering us as His children, with all the blessings and benefits that come with such an arrangement. I encourage you to read through these first few chapters of Ephesians again, put yourself in the “we’s”, “our’s”, and “us’s”, and see what Christ, in His love, has done for you.