Summary: As we imitate Paul’s behaviour, and as we learn from the faith and life of our Christian brothers and sisters, the result is a community of people who resemble Christ. Jesus showed us what it’s like to be fully human and to be right with God.
We are not citizens of the world. Is that a surprise? Not if you’re a Christian. Paul says in Philippians 3:15-21 that we do not belong to the environment in which we live. We live elsewhere. Our citizenship is in heaven. We need to know which realm we are citizens of, because the answer determines our choice of behaviours.
The spiritual maturity of the Philippians was the result of obedience to God’s principles, disciplines and commands. They were not to let anyone change their approach to the Christian life. They were to remain faithful to the principles of God’s word, just like we are to remain faithful.
Christ’s enemies have a different goal, a different god and a different glory than Christians. Their grid for making decisions is different as well. Their grid is earthly things, the Christian’s grid is the things of heaven, which is every believer’s future home.
Since Jesus Christ is immortal, infinite God and his words are completely trustworthy, our future is eternally secure with him. It doesn’t matter is we have little faith and great faith. It doesn’t matter if we are mature disciples or immature ones. It doesn’t matter if we have been a Christian for many years or if we have just recently received Christ. We are on our way to heaven. Our hope is secure in Christ.
The word “lowly” is not a derogatory term. It refers to our weak, limited bodies in their earthly condition. Many Greek pagans believed that the body was a vile prison for the soul. Christians see the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul looked forward to every Christian’s eternal hope-the day when the bodies of the saints would be redeemed and refashioned like the glorified body of Christ and all made new. We will be transformed so that we will be “Christ-like.”
Paul calls on us to behave in a way that is consistent with our spiritual lives and our practical daily lives. Part of this behaviour is learning to say “yes” to Christ in every area of our lives every day. Our consent is necessary for the Holy Spirit to transform our lives. We must be faithful to the truth of God’s Word.
There are many people who are enemies of the cross of Christ. Their minds are set on their fleshly appetites. They refuse to be open to the transforming power of God’s love. If they refuse to accept the death of their old, earthly lives, their fate is destruction. If we feel that we are at home on earth, we are headed for disaster. We are to shed tears for them and pray that they may be led by the Holy Spirit to see the Saviour, his cross and the empty tomb. We are to pray that they will see that in Christ there is salvation and eternal life.
We are called on to be humble models of Christian life. We have been rescued from the old, earthbound humanity. We are to be models for Christians who are still held captive to an earthly life. We are aliens in this world, and we must not forget our true, heavenly home. We were not made for earth. We will have moments of joy here on earth, but they do not compare to the happiness we will have in heaven.
Jesus wants us to focus on where God is and where we are going. We experience the pull of the world every day, and every day we are tempted to make plans for our worldly lives. Instead, we should be busy making plans for our eternal lives. We must take pleasure in pleasing Christ and Christ alone. Our spiritual home is of greater value because of its eternal nature. Our citizenship lies there. We who are faithful to God will be richly rewarded in heaven.
When we set our mind on heavenly things, we see ourselves as pilgrims on earth. We appreciate our heavenly citizenship, especially since Jesus bought it with his blood. We begin to look forward to Christ’s return. We look forward to having Christ change our bodies into ones like his. If we want to see further ahead into God’s will for our lives, we have to move ahead into the will of God just as far as we can see.
We are citizens of Christ’s heavenly city, which is governed by the gospel. Our true citizenship exists now in the foreign land called heaven. We must be heavenly-minded if we are to do Christ’s work here on earth. If we are citizens of heaven, it means that we follow Christ’s example as modeled by Paul, acting in humility and self-sacrificial service to others.
As we imitate Paul’s behaviour, and as we learn from the faith and life of our Christian brothers and sisters, the result is a community of people who resemble Christ. Jesus’ life and ministry is our example. Jesus showed us what it’s like to be fully human, to be right with God, and filled with the Holy Spirit.