As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, "May I say something to you?"
"Do you speak Greek?" he replied. "Aren't you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert some time ago?" Paul answered, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people."
Thoughts for Today:The self proclaimed street magician David Blaine approaches two young men on the streets of Los Angeles, and asks the question "Hey, you want to see some magic?" They hesitantly nod their approval, and then are amazed at the feats Blaine performs. If you've ever seen David Blaine perform you know he is no ordinary magician, just as Paul is no ordinary man.
In our passage today, Paul similarly asks the commander, "May I say something to you?" Clearly the commander thought he knew who Paul was -- instead he found out that Paul was "a citizen of no ordinary city." I really like that phrase because I too am a citizen of no ordinary city. I am a citizen and future resident of the Kingdom of God. The Bible tells us in Philippians 3:20-21, "Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. "
Unfortunately it also means that as a Christian, while I am on this earth, I will mostly feel like a stranger in a strange land -- somehow out of place. Can you relate to that feeling? I was playing golf with a group of guys the other day, men whom I had just met. Their conversation, what they talked about, what was important to them, how they spoke of their wives, work, morals, their language -- just about everything, was such a contrast to what I believe and how I live. Recently I was looking at the lineup of new television shows this year. Clearly what the viewing public is interested in is vastly different than my taste. I'm finding myself more and more out of step with the interests of the citizens of this world.
Questions to Ponder:We can't help having and forming some really great attachments while on this earth: friends, family, work, hobbies, etc. But while we're doing it we have to be careful to not take our mind off the prize -- as Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 9:24, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." Are you running in such a way as to get the prize? Are you behaving as "a citizen of no ordinary country"? Or are you indistinguishable from everyone else?