Monday, August 13, 2007

We Should Live as Citizens of Heaven

As I have said in this blog before, I am reading through Philippians once each day in its entirety. I want to focus on this passage for this post:

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. -Philippians 1:27

I looked this verse up in the NET Bible's notes (www.bible.org) and found this about the above verse:

Translation note: Grk “live as citizens.” The verb πολιτεύεσθε (politeuesqe) connotes the life of a freeman in a free Roman colony.

Study Note: Conduct yourselves (Grk “live your lives as citizens”). The Philippians lived in a free Roman city, and thus understood from their own experience what it meant to live as citizens. Paul is here picking up on that motif and elevating it to the citizenship of heaven. Cf. 3:20 (our citizenship is in heaven).


The idea here is that we are citizens of heaven now. Right after the above passage, Paul says that if they conduct themselves as citizens of heaven (or worth of the gospel) in his absence, he will have confidence that they are "...standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel, and by not being intimidated in any way by your opponents." So that seems to explain - at least in part - what living as citizens of heaven looks like.

I often do not live as a citizen of heaven - though just as the Romans had freedom to live as citizens of Rome and enjoy the privileges that come with that citizenship - so do I have the freedom and privilege to live as a citizen of heaven. But I don't. I don't "fight the good fight". I don't stand firm in unity with my fellow believers in contending for the faith. Rather I live as if this world is the only heaven - like there is nowhere else I am going to spend eternity - really as if there is no heaven or eternity. I focus too much on things temporary instead of things eternal. Why is that? Because I get wrapped up in chasing after things that give me comfort or security - money in particular - but also relationships, fun things to do, etc. In general, "bling". When I do that, I lose sight of what's important to God. There is a reason He says you can't serve both God and money. Living as citizens of heaven involves turning away from the over emphasis on chasing after those things and returning to that which God deems important: bringing people into His Kingdom - the only "bling" we can take with us when we go to heaven. What am I doing to see people's lives changed? Or more correctly, what am I allowing God to do through me to change people's lives? The answers should involve those things that Paul mentions in the passage above: standing firm in our faith, uniting with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to expand God's Kingdom, living Godly lives.

It's a question we should all ask on a regular basis - and then re-orient our lives and priorities to match up with what God is calling us to do.

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