"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also memebers of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles & prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone."
I'm new to California. I'm officially a resident: got my CA drivers' license, paying rent & utilities, even registered to vote. But it will wake me a while before I feel like "a Californian." I'm a US citizen, so I don't have the "outsiders" struggle that many immigrants face. That's quite a topic of debate and controversy - not just in CA, but all over this country (though especially in the "border states"). Once someone has achieved "citizen" status, they're in!
The Bible uses citizenship language (along with 'resident alien,' 'stranger,' 'sojourner,' etc.). This is both a literal descriptions (the Hebrews were resident aliens in Egypt, so they know what it's like; thus, they're to have compassion on the resident aliens who live in Israel!)... and a spiritual one. Paul writes about God's WELCOME & ACCEPTANCE of us as "citizens" of the Kingdom. Not just citizens, but "members of the household of God." That's integration, community & family intimacy. We join all those "saints" who have come before, because of the work of Jesus.
The church, when at our best, is about INCLUSION, not exclusion. It's about extending God's loving hospitality & welcome to all, not being gatekeepers at the door of grace. God can take care of that department just fine, should He choose to do so. In the meantime, thanks be to God for our inclusion & acceptance. May we extend that same hospitality to others. All others!