MSN just posted the latest citizenship test, which non-citizens must pass in order to be naturalized. Think back to your middle school civics & government class and click here to take the test. (FYI, yours truly scored 100%, thanks Mr. Stiffler).
Regardless of how you do on this test, it makes you also wonder about the process of citizenship. Some receive it by birth, warranted by the location of their mother a the time of their birth. Some receive it by working for it, by moving to this land and applying to the government and after achieving prescribed requirements, then earn citizenship. Now, while the rights of both born and naturalized citizens are identical, the way they become citizens is different. One works for it, the other does nothing, it's given.
If I may springboard from this idea, moving beyond the political and societal implications of naturalization, to the biblical idea of citizenship. Our default setting regarding salvation and God, is actually in terms of naturalization. All religions of the world prescribe how one may become a "citizen" of that religion. They are naturalized by their actions, of which faith may or may not be included. By achieving prescribed requirements, something is then conferred.
However, the Christian Gospel of Jesus tells us that none are naturalized by earning their citizenship, but rather we enter into His heavenly kingdom only by being born from above (i.e. born anew or to even use the phrase born again - see John 3:1-18). Just as some US citizens are such by no merit of their own, but have it by birth unearned, so the grace of God grants to sinners citizenship in his kingdom by being born again, not by their achievements but by his preordained grace. Jesus said, "You did not choose me, but I chose you." I am a US citizen not by my freewill choice, but by nature of my birth. Likewise eternal life is given me by God's grace bringing new birth of which I contribute nothing.
Please note, my point here is not to argue that naturalized citizens in this country are somehow "second class." That is not my point at all. Rather, my point is simply analogous: that one citizen earns their citizenship, one does not. Likewise one view of Christianity is that we earn our citizenship in heaven - either by our works or by our "choice" of Jesus - the other says it is only by God's grace are any born anew as heavenly citizens