Summary: How does our citizenship in heaven shape the way we think and interact with the world around us? How does it inform our understanding of social justice? How does "eagerly" waiting for the Coming of Christ affect the way we live life?
We are in a profound transition both in the church and in the nation. The presidential election is only weeks away. The results will take our nation and our lives in one of two very different directions. The church is also being reconfigured. Even now it looks very different than it did seven months ago. But the changes are not over yet.
This is a time for God’s people to consecrate themselves to the Lord. We have been using the Ten Days of Awe on the Jewish calendar as a time for prayer, repentance, and preparation. Those ten days conclude with Yom Kippur on September 27th at sunset. The Day of Atonement is recognized as a day of prayer and fasting before the Lord. I would encourage you set aside time for God, not as a legalistic requirement, but as an opportunity to join millions of others in seeking the Lord.
Our text today is found in Philippians 3:20-21. I am reading from the New King James Version.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”i
You have heard the saying, “He is so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good.” The intent behind that saying is to point out the problem of using spirituality as an excuse for not serving others. That point is well taken and we know that can be a problem. However, there is a subtle error that can easily be communicated through the saying: the idea that we should just give ourselves to practical, earthly matters, as if the spirituality is the problem.
The Bible refutes that claim. Scripture tells us that we must be heavenly minded if we are to produce works of eternal value.
Our text is one example of that instruction. I want to focus on three facts in our text that should shape the way we think about the world around us.
I. Our citizenship is in heaven.
II. We are eagerly waiting for our Savior from heaven.
III. At His coming our salvation will be made complete.
I. Our CITIZENSHIP is in Heaven.
That does not mean that we don’t have commitments and responsibilities in this life. The New Testament places high value in taking care of our families. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (KJV). That is very strong language. In his epistles to the Thessalonians Paul addressed people who tended to be “so heavenly minded that they were no earthly good.” Expecting the Lord to return at any time, some stopped working and stopped providing for their families.
To those people Paul wrote,
“For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread” (2 Thess. 3:10-12).
Work is a powerful protection against many temptations. When I am working, I don’t have time to be a busybody. When I am occupied serving others, I am not as tempted to be self-absorbed. There are two sides to resisting temptation. One is to say no to the wrong thing. The other side is to say yes to the right things. If we will be occupied with the assignment God has given us, we will not be nearly as vulnerable to getting involved in activities we shouldn’t be doing. The pithy statement, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop,” is not in the Bible. But the concept behind it is. The human mind will be occupied with something. That is its nature. It is designed to be occupied with God and the assignment He gives us to do.ii When that is happen worldly distractions are not so appealing.
The heavenly mindedness Paul is addressing in our text produces the right motivations and direction for doing good works. God has good works already planned for each and everyone of us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Are you walking in the “good works, which God prepared” for you to walk in? That is where you will find your spiritual strength.iii
We must be heavenly minded so that we know what our assignment is. We must have our ear toward heaven so that our days are not spent in vanity. We go up the mountain to be with the Lord so that we are equipped to come down and serve others effectively.