“I am, too,” the commander muttered, “and it cost me plenty!” Paul answered, “But I am a citizen by birth!” (Acts 22:28 NLT)
Today, many Americans have the day off work for Independence Day. The Fourth of July is a celebration of freedom and national pride. There are great benefits that come with being a United States citizen; both for immigrants and those born in this country. There were privileges associated with being a Roman citizen 2,000 years ago. This is evident in a conversation between Paul and a government official.
Luke records in Acts 22:28 that the commander paid a great amount of money for his citizenship. In those days, the rights of Roman citizenship could be purchased by foreigners. Paul did not have to pay because he was born a citizen. As a result, Paul received legal protections when faced with accusations from an angry crowd. I am thankful for the many privileges that come with living in this country. We are free to gather in churches to praise our Heavenly Father and to tell others about the hope we have in Jesus Christ. I thank God for this nation and pray that believers around the world will have the same opportunities and freedoms.
It is also important to know that while Paul's Roman citizenship was important to him, it paled in comparison to his identity as a follower of Christ. The same is true for our U.S. citizenship and our relationship with Christ. A government can grant us legal rights and freedoms, but only Jesus Christ provides eternal freedom from the penalty of sin (John 14:6).
As we participate in parades and enjoy time with family on this national holiday, let's remember that we should celebrate our country, but only God deserves our worship.