Summary: What is in our minds largely determines our perspective. What we think influences what we see.
“Living A Joy-Full Life: Furnish Your Memory”
What is in our minds largely determines our perspective. What we think influences what we see. For example, look at these words on the screen. WOMAN WITHOUT HER MAN IS A SAVAGE. What’s in your mind will determine how you punctuate the phrase – and how you punctuate the phrase makes a huge difference. How many of you immediately saw WOMAN: WITHOUT HER, MAN IS A SAVAGE? ... How many of you saw WOMAN, WITHOUT HER MAN, IS A SAVAGE? … What’s in your mind determines your perspective.
So as Paul continues to consider the prize for which God has called us heavenward, he wants to furnish concepts for our mind. He has used the image of the accountant and dealt with profit and loss, he used the figure of the runner and the race to deal with focus, and now he moves to the picture of an alien to deal with citizenship. We need to consider where, to whom, to what, we truly belong.
First, Paul says that to furnish our minds we must REMEMBER OUR HOME BASE. We need to remember where we are from. It is not uncommon to be a citizen of one country but to travel to or live in another. There are, for example, Americans living in most every country of the world. And there are citizens of most every country of the world living in America. But it’s not where we live but where we are born that determines our citizenship. (20) “Bur our citizenship is in heaven.” As John 1:12-13 reminds us: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Being born of God WE ARE CITIZENS OF HEAVEN. Our Baptism establishes and confirms who we are - not children of earth but children of God. As someone has said, “The Christian is not a person who, standing on earth, looks up to heaven; but who, being in heaven, looks down upon earth, and throughout his life recognizes that he is a foreigner indeed.” We are resident aliens on earth.
This was true for Jesus. Often He pointed out that He was not of this world but that He had come down from heaven, and therefore He was to do the Father’s will. The Gospels all describe Jesus’ life on earth as a visit. He was born in a borrowed manger, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and He often had no place to lay his head. When his disciples went home, He went to the Mount of Olives to be with his Father. His whole life was framed by his heavenly citizenship.
The same was true for Paul - he knew his dual citizenship. On more than one occasion he used his earthly Roman citizenship to fend off punishment and gain more favorable treatment. Yet he also knew that his real citizenship was heavenly. He therefore built his entire life around that. His citizenship provided the framework of his life.
This means WE ARE TO MAKE HEAVEN OUR PRIORITY. Jesus Christ, not any earthly leader or government, is our leader and ruler. Our allegiance is to Christ’s Kingdom and the nation in which we live is our secondary loyalty. Is it any wonder Jesus said (Mt. 6:19-21, 33)) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Is this the priority of your life? As you travel this life, remember your home base.