August 24, 2017 Steps to Life Newsletter

 

Dear STL Supporter

Where Is Your Citizenship?

Here in Australia, out of the blue, dual citizenship has become a hot political potato in recent weeks.  The Australian Constitution’s stipulation of sole citizenship for elected members of the Commonwealth Parliament has come into the spotlight and a number of prominent politicians have been disqualified from holding the offices they were elected to.  The duality of citizenship unwittingly held by some of our politicians has caused them great embarrassment and loss of office.  Our Constitution bars dual citizens from being eligible for elected parliamentary office, unless they can show they have taken reasonable steps to sever foreign ties. 

Why would the founding fathers of Australia make Section 44 of the Australian Constitution to be so particular about duality of citizenship?

At least one of the reasons in the minds of those who drafted Section 44, may have been about total  loyalty to Australia in times of conflict or crisis.  Should Australia find itself to be in a conflict of interest situation with the country of which a federal politician held dual citizenship their total loyalty may be compromised and decision making biased.

Senator Matt Cavanan, one of several Commonwealth Senators caught up in the dual citizenship mess, has made the explanation that his mother, who holds dual citizenship, unbeknown to him, had successfully applied for him to become a citizen of her birth country without gaining his consent. 

A surprised Matt Cavanan is reported as saying he had -  ‘no suspicion’ he had dual citizenship, until his mother ‘raised the possibility’.  He said, ‘I was not born in Italy, I have never been to Italy and to my knowledge I have never set foot inside the Italian consulate or embassy.  I knew my mother had become an Australian citizen, but I had no knowledge that I myself had become an Italian citizen, nor did I request to become an Italian citizen’.   Its hard to comprehend how a person can become a citizen of a country without providing consent but in Matt Cavanan’s case this seems to have occurred.

As Christians we can only hold citizenship in one place – Earth or Heaven.  Split loyalties are impossible.  We are either citizens of 

the Heavenly kingdom or citizens of Satan’s kingdom. We make a conscious choice to be one or the other.  No one else can make that choice for us.  Yes, others we associate with as family and friends can influence us in the citizenship choices we make, but they can’t make the choice for us. 

The apostle Paul in writing to the Philippians spoke of the importance of sole citizenship for Christians - For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Phil 3: 20.)  While we live here on earth, in Satan’s kingdom, Jesus has provided for us Heavenly citizenship right now.  The choice is ours. 

Paul goes on to say we as Heavenly citizens, living as strangers here in Satan’s kingdom, have a pattern to follow - Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. (V. 17) Paul was living to model the pattern of living that Jesus provided in his life and teachings.  We have that responsibility, too, as Heavenly citizens living in a foreign country.  Our citizenship also makes us ambassadors.

What a responsibility that is!  Paul contrasts Heavenly living with living as a citizen of Earth. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: (V.18).  He points out the end result of rejecting the citizenship that Jesus is offering us - whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame - who set their mind on earthly things. (V.19)

Paul follows a similar theme in his letter to the Ephesian Christians.  He tells us about the privilege of being heavenly citizens and whom our fellow country men and women are - but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.  Holding Heavenly citizenship places us in the company of the apostles and prophets.  We are no longer strangers and foreigners.  We all have a defined place in the Heavenly kingdom.  It’s like a building which forms the spiritual Temple of God.  Jesus is the cornerstone (main foundation) and we as part of that building become a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  (See Ephesians 2: 19 to 22).  What an amazing thought!

Can you see why we can’t have simultaneous citizenship of God’s and Satan’s kingdoms?  Our divided loyalty would be incompatible and not acceptable to either God or Satan. There is constant conflict between God and Satan. Our decision-making would be constantly impaired.  It’s one or the other.   There is a mutual exclusivity.  God’s spiritual temple can’t have Satan’s brick in it.

No one, not even our mothers, can make us a citizen of God’s or Satan’s kingdom.  It’s our decision only.  Sometimes we can be living a life without suspicion that has us believing we don’t have dual loyalties when we do.  When confronted with the gospel our divided loyalty becomes apparent.  Then citizenship of either God’s or Satan’s kingdom requires our choice and our consent and our daily commitment. Have we taken, in the strength that God promises and with his eyesight, the reasonable steps needed to severe our foreign ties?  We don’t want to be disqualified from holding membership of God’s kingdom.

Why Did STL Not Run a July Spiritual Seminar Program This Year?

Folks who were disappointed in us not having a mid-year seminar weekend in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane this year have asked us this question.

The answer is that life has become increasing busy for people in their churches with multiple events and programs they wish to support.  The same is also the situation for the STL team, as we each are trying to support our local churches while at the same time provide a range of programs through STL.  So, we have reviewed and reprioritised our meeting schedules and have gone back to the two major seminars a year model that STL used to provide.  Our next spiritual seminar series in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will be in November.  Diamond Garcia and Janet Neumann will be our speakers. 

The theme is Being a Seventh-day Adventist Christians in a Contemporary World.  The challenges we face from outside and also inside the church are unprecedented.  You will find the seminar both engaging and helpful as the challenges of living in a contemporary world come your way.  We are looking forward to meeting you then.  Please see the inserted flyer or attachment for full details.

Christian greetings and kind regards from Cherryl and the STL team.

Brian Way/Programs Coordinator.

 
 
 
 

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