Recognizing our Citizenship.

Recognizing our Citizenship

Phil. 3:20-21

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

            In verses 20-21, Paul uses the analogy of citizenship to redirect our focus.  As a Roman citizen, Paul understood both the benefits and responsibilities that citizenship brings a person.  However, more than anything, citizenship defines our priorities and focus.  In the previous verses, he had warned that they were in hostile territory as Christians living in a godless world.  Paul warns that they would face opposition, for there is a fundamentally different worldview between citizens of this earth and citizens of heaven.  

            If you visit a different country, you soon realize that their culture, customs, and values are often radically different from our own.  They communicate in a different language.  They dress differently and have different values.  This is also true regarding Christians and the world in which we live.  When Paul states that our citizenship is in heaven, he realigns our priorities and values.  He reminds us that there is a fundamental difference between the world's perspective and Christ's perspective.  Their values are radically different than ours.  The world is driven by the pursuit of pleasure, the desire for wealth and status, and the pursuit of values of our world.  Yet, for the Christian, we must have a completely different focus and priority.  Instead of focusing on the accumulation of things in our present culture and the values that our society establishes, we are to focus on our eternal home.  

            When we are visiting a foreign country we do not put down roots.  We do not build homes or make purchases we cannot take with us when we leave.  This is equally true spiritually.  Because our citizenship is in heaven, we focus on what has value for eternity. This value comes through our relationship with Christ and becoming like Him.  It is to embrace His sovereign rule.  The word “citizenship” in verse 20 is the same word used in 1:27 when Paul states that we are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.  Literally, he states we are to “live as a citizen of the gospel of Christ.”  In other words, we are to live in a way that reflects who we are in Christ and our eternal residency in His kingdom.  

            When we were visiting the Philippines, we stood out wherever we went.  When we went to the mall to do some shopping, people looked at us because we were different.  We looked differently, we talked differently, and we dressed differently.  Even though we were visiting the Philippines, we were quickly recognized as Americans because we looked, dressed, and spoke like Americans. This is the point that Paul is making.  As disciples of Christ, we are to live in a way that reflects Christ. We are not to embrace the values of the world but rather the values of Christ.

            This challenges us to examine our lives.  Do people see Christ in us?  Do we live in a way that reflects our relationship with Christ?  If we do, we will stand out, for we will be different. Instead of embracing the values of our culture, we will embrace the values of Christ.  Instead of focusing our life on the present and the things of this world, we will focus on the things of Christ and the pursuit of that which has eternal value. Instead of accumulating the things the world values, we focus on those with eternal value. Do we live our lives so that people can easily see the difference in our citizenship?

 

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