A New Citizen
Yesterday I went from being a dual-citizen to being a triple-citizen. Along with most of my family, we all took the oath and became Australian citizens. One of our daughters somehow jumped the queue and became an Aussie before the rest of us did yesterday. Now we’re all officially part of this nation Down Under. We’re thankful that this country has welcomed us. My prayer is that we can be a blessing to our new home.
Why did we do it? There are several reasons. The most important for me has to do with the gospel. Just like with the Apostle Paul and his Roman citizenship, Australian citizenship grants me certain legal protections that I didn’t have before. Being an Australian means I can’t be deported for preaching and teaching God’s Word. As it stands, there is already a law in Australia (in Victoria) that could see criminal charges brought against Christian preachers all across this Great Southern Land. We can’t be naive about the pace of social change and the challenges ahead.
Being a citizen also allows us the opportunity to be more meaningfully involved with Australian society. We can vote. The voice of voters carries more weight with politicians. Especially in a small state like Tasmania, that can have a significant impact.
As citizens, our children also now have access to the full range of benefits afforded to Australians. We were permanent residents as soon as we landed in September 2015, but PRs can’t access government programs which help university students. More opportunities open up when you’re an Australian citizen.
Being Australian doesn’t mean we’ve ceased being Canadian. We’re still Canadian citizens. It also doesn’t mean we’ll never move back to Canada — I just don’t know what God has in store for us in the coming years. Maybe we’ll be here for the remainder of my active ministry years and maybe not. If we do stay, I’d be perfectly happy with that.
So now we’re both Canadian citizens and Australian citizens. But hold on, didn’t I say at the beginning that I’m now a triple-citizen? Yes! You see, my most important citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven. Some day I won’t be a Canadian or Australian anymore. But because of what Jesus has done for me in his life, death, and resurrection, I’ll always be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. This is the most precious citizenship of all. The benefits outweigh any afforded by any nation on earth: I have a king who knows me personally, who loves me and defends me; I have a king who will transform my lowly body to be like his glorious body; I have a king who will allow me to reign with him in my blessed inheritance.
Being Canadian is something I’ve always been thankful for. Canada has been good to us in so many ways. Now being Australian is also something to feel grateful about — it’s not a “lucky country,” but a “blessed country.” But being part of God’s kingdom tops it all.