Text: Acts 22:17-29
For the happy exchange that brings us into the Kingdom
For our fellow citizens in our land as election day nears
For all elected and appointed officials
HOW DID YOU COME BY THIS CITIZENSHIP? Paul is about to be scourged; a method of punishment intended to bring forth the truth about a judicial matter through the threat of prolonged suffering. Our own use of the word “trial” to describe the proceedings in a courtroom are an echo of this way of thinking: the truth will be discovered and “proved” by testing everyone's account.
Just as Paul is about to be whipped, he declares to the centurion standing nearby, “I am a Roman citizen,” which means that he is exempt from such procedures. The judge, maybe not quite believing him, is curious as to how he is a citizen. “I had to pay a large sum” to secure such a privilege, the judge declares.
“I was born free,” Paul simply says.
Paul’s words echo the joy we have as citizens of our Father’s Heavenly Kingdom: there is no sum we can pay to secure such a blessing—we are reborn free. We have citizenship bestowed upon us in the most amazing reversals of fortune that can be described. The only Son of the King has willingly allowed himself to be tried and endured the suffering we deserved. He returned from that dreadful trial, dressed us in his finery and given to us the family name. He teaches us how to live as citizens of his blessed land, a realm that is not far away, but as close as the whispering Spirit of Life that breathes upon us. We walk in his ways, his banner waving over us, and discover that practicing this new life keeps far from us all sorts of evil and woe. We belong to him, and so we do not waver but hold fast when the world rises up and demands our lives.
Let no one frighten you with suffering—remember that you are free.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks