Summary: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” In Philippians 1:27, Paul acknowledged the fact that we are also citizens on earth and must therefore be careful about how we live:
I heard former President Jimmy Carter interviewed on WGN Radio a couple weeks ago. In commenting about the current presidential campaign, he said, “I’ve never seen it so negative and there has never been a sharper divide in our country.” He then said that of the 52 elections he has monitored around the world, this one is the worst he has ever witnessed. As he reflected upon his own campaign 28 years ago, he remembers how he and his opponent at least talked respectfully to each other. They debated the issues but didn’t attack individuals. They would refer to each other as “my distinguished opponent.” That’s a far cry from what we hear today as both men regularly try to crucify the other.
Our country is divided into red and blue states and black and blue candidates. Both President Bush and Senator Kerry have practiced political polemics and have attacked each other’s characters. One political commentator put it this way: “Destroying the opposition rather than just winning the election seems to have become the trend in recent campaigns.” I’ve heard words like: liar, warmonger, weak, incompetent, flip-flopper, and worse. Earlier this week, both sides made inflammatory comments about each other over explosives in Iraq. The lack of civility and fear tactics has led to an ideological divide and a shaken up citizenry.
In an article that appeared in Business Wire, psychologist Robert Butterworth warns that election results could cause despair: “Many people have poured their heart, soul, and money into this election. This emotional state results in not only disappointment and dread in those voters backing the loser but has the potential to turn into psychological symptoms – both because their candidate lost and because their entire political belief system and philosophical roots has been defeated” (http://home.businesswire.com).
What about you? Are you angry or apathetic? How are you going to feel if your choice doesn’t win? Should Christian citizens act any differently than other people? Part of the tension we feel is that we have dual citizenship. To Christians who felt overwhelmed by the hostility of their culture, the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:20: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” In Philippians 1:27, Paul acknowledged the fact that we are also citizens on earth and must therefore be careful about how we live: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” This word “conduct” is derived from the word we get “politics” from. We could paraphrase it this way: “The only thing that matters is that you live as good citizens in a manner worthy of the gospel.”
In his book called, The City of God, Augustine described two different cities: the city of God and the city of man. The city of man is temporal and capable of being destroyed, while the city of God is eternal. Christians understand the fact that while we are citizens of the city of man; our true citizenship is in heaven. As such, we must set our sights on the unseen spiritual world, and when we do, our behavior as earthly citizens should reflect the fact that we are but passing through this place. We are resident aliens, if you will.
And because we are citizens of heaven and earth, we must live with a certain amount of tension. Paul writes to Titus on the island of Crete, and thus he writes to Christians everywhere who must learn to live among Cretans. We will discover some truths this morning that will stabilize us as we approach uncertain times. During the last two weeks, we’ve learned that older men and women are to mentor those who are younger as Paul taught about the home and family relationships. He moves us now into the work world, then has us gaze on grace, and finally teaches us how to respond to rulers and authorities in our government.
Worship at work (2:9-10)
Grow in grace (2:11-15)
Respect rulers (3:1-2)
1. Worship at Work. Let’s look at verses 9-10: “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” There are some things to keep in mind when studying the topic of slavery in Scripture.
Slavery is never endorsed but is not denounced either.
Slave owners are never commanded to free their slaves nor are slaves told to seek their freedom.
Having said that, when Christianity spread through the Roman world, and slave owners and slaves became believers, their hearts were changed. And when hearts were changed, the institution of slavery was eventually abolished. That’s a good principle for us to keep in mind. We must focus on our primary calling of evangelism. Our country will change not by politicians or laws but by the preaching of the gospel and changed hearts. As hearts change, people will change, and as people change, our country will change. The message of the Gospel is that all men and women have eternal value and therefore should be free.