January 26th each year is the day Australia celebrates our identity as a nation.
Traditionally, it’s where we get together with mates, have a BBQ and enjoy our country. I always use this day as a day to thank God for this amazing country and how lucky I am to live here. But I also think it’s a good opportunity to think about where my personal identity comes from. Does it come from being an Australian? Does it come from my family? The things I have? The things I do including all the “good” things? My work? The ministry that I do?
Or does my identity come solely from God? This was a really challenging question when I started to examine my life. I would encourage you to take the opportunity this Australia Day to think about this as well.
While I am a citizen of Australia, we Christians have a higher citizenship. We are citizens of heaven. And that should be foremost. As Paul says in Phil 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”. The thing about this verse is that’s it’s not by itself. The verse before it tells us what being a citizen of heaven has saved us from, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (v19). Then the verse after tells us what being a citizen of heaven means for us, “who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (v21).
When you are putting some snags on the barbie this Australia day, I would encourage you to invite someone over who doesn’t know the Lord. Celebrate Australia and the amazing country it is. Celebrate being a citizen of this country. Draw them into real Christian community with you and your family. Even invite some other friends over!
But I would also encourage you to start a more important conversation with them. Perhaps you can ask them what it means to them be an Australian? Tell them what it means to you. And then tell them what it means to have a higher citizenship. Spend some time with the Lord in prayer and reading the Bible beforehand thinking through what being a citizen means for you. Ask God to show you the right passages that will speak to your mates as you talk to them about it. Then go into the day in confidence that the Holy Spirit is there and speaking through you.