Acts 22:25-29 NKJV And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” (26) When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.” (27) Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.” (28) The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.” (29) Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
“Membership has its privileges” is a trademarked phrase by the American Express credit card company that was once frequently heard in all of their commercials. Though I can’t speak of the benefits of being an American Express card member, the phrase is true when it comes to our relationship with the Lord and as members of the Kingdom of God. It also benefited the Apostle Paul as a citizen (a member) of Rome.
Paul has just recently returned to Jerusalem for what he knows by both revelation and prophecy will end in his incarceration. After properly following the purification ceremonies entered the temple. It wasn’t long before a number of Jews from Asia, where Paul had spent a great deal of time ministering recognized him and after brazen allegations were made a mod grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the temple and began severely beating him and intended to kill him. News got the Roman military commander who intervened before they could kill Paul. Even though they bound him in chains to take him to the barracks, the mob persisted. Paul convinced the commander to allow him to address the crowd and shared the testimony of his conversion and faith in Jesus as Messiah. This did not go over well and the commander, fearing there would be a great riot had Paul taken to the barracks and ordered him scourged.
Here is where membership has its privileges. Now back at the base, Paul reveals to the commander that although he is Jewish he is also a Roman citizen by birth. As a citizen, to be punished without a trial was unlawful. The commander was now terrified that he could have charges brought up against him and they backed off of Paul. Paul’s citizenship of Rome had its privileges to relieve him from his present bondage, to now gain protection from the military who would keep him from being killed by the Sadducees the next day, and ultimately help him fulfill his calling to minister to the highest officials in the Roman government. Membership has its privileges.
Membership has its privileges for you to. Only instead of being a part of Rome, you have citizenship in Heaven (Php 3:20). That means that Heaven is working on your behalf to protect you, to keep you, and to open doors for you to fulfill your divine destiny. The road might look dark and scary sometimes, but Fear Not and walk on ahead. Heaven is on your side. Membership has its privileges.