Summary: 3 important truths about being a citizen of heaven (Seed thought from Bob Tinsky's book, A Christian Is, pgs. 109-112; outline and material adapted from Sermon Central's John Stensrud under title: Characteristics of Christian Citizenship)
Young children, a sister and a brother, in a patriotic family were playing church together. The boy recited at the end of the mock church service, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The girl continued in a strong voice, “and the republic for which it stands.” Their playing church illustrates an issue that we as Christians face. Dual citizenship
Before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, immigrants must take an oath that says, in part, "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen."
Until 1967 dual citizenship (being a citizen of US and a citizen of another country) was illegal. In 1967, the US Supreme Court ruled that the State Department had violated the Constitution when it refused to issue a new U.S. passport to a U.S. citizen who had voted in an election in Israel. The decision overturned a law saying that "a person, who is a national of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voting in a political election in a foreign state." Even so, dual citizenship is discouraged in the US and unrecognized by the US State Department.
For years it was recognized in this country that the best citizens were dual citizens: citizens of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ first and then citizens of the US. This quote from Samuel Adams after signing the Declaration of Independence says as much: “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come!” How sad that things are different today. First allegiance is to the US and if speak up on behalf of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, then unpatriotic
Back to our Scriptures tonight, the Philippians could relate to the idea of dual citizenship. Philippi was over 600 miles away from Rome. Philippi was built by retired Roman soldiers. Though they lived in Philippi in Macedonia, these people were citizens of Rome. They didn’t want to speak the language of Macedonia; they wanted to speak the language of Rome. When they put their children to bed at night, they did not tell them stories of Macedonia; they told them stories of the glory of Rome.
Paul applies this culture to the idea of being a citizen of heaven. He’s telling the Philippians church and us about the characteristics of Christian citizens living temporarily in this world.
Thesis: 3 important truths about being a citizen of heaven
Christian citizens imitate excellent role models (Vs. 17)
In my limited knowledge of 12 step programs, an addict cannot recover from their dependency unless they have a sponsor. A sponsor serves as a motivator, an encourager and a source of accountability.
We cannot grow properly unless we have a mentor or guide. We call this discipleship. We need a mature Christian to help us in our journey. I have mentors who pray for me, encourage me, and challenge me. Without them, I would be stunted in my growth as a Christian.
Paul is not being a braggart. Already said in Vs. 12, read it.
“Let’s learn from the elephants.” The article was an interesting story about a herd of African elephants. In an attempt to thin out this herd, the authorities killed off a number of the older males and moved a group of females and young bulls to another area. It was not too long after the move that white rhinos in that area were being killed, not by poachers, but by the young bulls that were trying to prove their elephant-hood. One elephant even organized a gang that began attacking tourist buses. To solve the problem, the authorities shot some of the troublemakers but then came up with a better solution. They released a few old males from another area into the troubled neighborhood. The older males immediately began to bring the young bulls into line. It would appear that the young elephants did not know how to act in their day-to-day living without the example of the older elephants to teach them. Learning by example is not restricted to just the animal kingdom. Just as the elephants needed an example to follow so that they knew how to behave in their day-to-day living, so also we need an example to follow in our day-to-day Christian living.
Christian citizens shun worldly values (Vs. 18-19)
Paul weeps over worldly minded people who profess to be Christians. He isn’t talking about unbelievers but people in the church. Nothing more dangerous than a professing Christian who is worldly in his thoughts and actions.