A friend of mine recently became a citizen of the United States. After living in this country for a number of years, she decided to become a citizen. She filled out the necessary forms, took the tests, made the pledge of loyalty to this country and, of course, paid the required fees. It's quite a process.

I did the same thing in a much simpler way: I was born a citizen. No forms (at least not filled out by me!), no tests, no pledge, no fees. All I did was be born in the right place. My children did me one better. Not only were they born citizens of the United States, they were also born Argentine citizens. Two kids, four passports.

They're not the only ones with dual citizenship, however. Even though I don't have the passport to prove it, I am also a citizen under another jurisdiction. I'm a citizen of God's kingdom. I'm not a naturalized citizen; I was born into that kingdom. In fact, there are no naturalized citizens in God's kingdom.

During Jesus' public ministry, a man named Nicodemus came to see him. While talking with Nicodemus, Jesus told him, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5). It takes a second birth to become a citizen of God's kingdom, a birth involving water and the Spirit. The apostle Paul talked about this new birth when he wrote: "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Romans 6:4). When a believer in Jesus is baptized, he is buried under the water and comes out with a new life. It's a new birth. In writing to Titus, Paul called this act "the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). Rebirth... new life... born again... it’s all the same concept.

How do you become a citizen of God's kingdom?
Years ago I was born into this world, becoming a U.S. citizen. Almost 13 years later, I was born a second time, when I was baptized, becoming a citizen of God's kingdom. Despite my lack of a passport, my second citizenship is every bit as real as my first one and much more important. Long after all passports have turned to dust, I'll still hold my heavenly citizenship.

If you want to become a citizen of God's kingdom, there are no tests to take, no forms to complete, no money to pay. There are no naturalized citizens in God's kingdom. The only way to enter is to be born again, born of water and the Spirit. If you'd like to know more about this new birth, write to me at tim@hopeforlife.org or leave a comment on our blog at hopeforlife.org.