In pre-modern times, empires would give citizenship rights to vassal countries that paid the empire its dues. This practice continues today, albeit in different forms. Yesterday, the Romanian President visited Washington D.C. to sign a missile defense treaty. The U.S. military will build an anti-missile system in Romania and will station 500 U.S. troops in Romania. In exchange for this agreement and for Romania’s participation in the war in Afghanistan, Romania is asking for a visa waiver for its citizens to travel to the U.S. For military alignment, Romania wants some of the benefits of citizenship in the empire.
To counter and critique this militaristic basis for citizenship, those with citizenship in heaven commit to loving those on the other side of the missile ‘defense’ so that we may share together in the citizenship of heaven. Although we may lose the benefits of the empire by not participating in its claims to protect through violence, we know that the empire ultimately cannot deliver on those claims.
Those with heavenly citizenship resist battling with flesh and blood and name, unmask and engage the powers and principalities that dehumanize, oppress and kill those created after the image of God.
What if citizenship in heaven translated to immigrants being made to feel at home and as fellow citizens because we too are strangers and aliens made to feel welcome and offered citizenship in a kingdom in which we are completely unworthy to visit, let alone call home?
What if citizenship in heaven meant that immigrants were viewed by the church as a gift rather than a threat?