Summary: Taking Paul’s lead to change our focus from this world to the reward at the end of the race. How much would you need to change if ....
I was raised in a small town in southern Ohio. I remember the lazy days of summer when the air-raid sirens went off once per week and we would all look up to see if we could see enemy planes, or when all the boys would gather on the school playground to play baseball like the big kids did. I remember the comfort of being in America and enjoying those secure and peaceful days.
I never thought too much about those times as I went through them, though. I never really had full appreciation for them until I went overseas. I have been to several places overseas and found no place that offered the “goodness” that I experienced in “my” America those many years ago.
Japan, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, and on and on. I experienced their lifestyles and began to appreciate more and more the lifestyle I had been blessed with as I grew up.
Some of you have gone places, too. I know that the missionaries from this church have gone to places like the Philippines, Russia, and Mexico. You have seen first hand how many people live in other areas. And I will bet that, no matter how much you enjoyed serving the Lord by helping these people, you were certainly glad to get home. You were visitors to another land, but you were still citizens of America.
Paul uses this analogy in EPHESIANS 2:19-20, when he says,
‘Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.’
We are on earth, but as Christians, we are not citizens of earth. Paul reminds of this again in PHILIPPIANS 3:20-21.
‘But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.’
With these two passages in mind, we must be fully aware of who we are and what we are supposed to be doing. We are Christians and we are to help build the kingdom of our Lord. But to do that, there are three things, of which we must be aware. The first thing we must remember is …
1. WE BELONG TO JESUS
There is a song we sing, that tells us we are part of the family of God. We are joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod. We are members of God’s own household. We ambassadors and the job we are here to do is to help spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Who is Paul directing his comments to? He is talking to those that he considers sincere followers of Christ. He is not saying that everyone is a citizen of Heaven. And as hard as this is to hear, he isn’t saying that every person that goes to a church is a citizen of heaven, either. He is talking about those that are sincere in their hearts as to being devoted fully and totally to Jesus. These are the only people who are citizens of heaven, and they gain that right by nothing more than their complete and total surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Now, the implication of being a citizen is that we do not belong here. We might have a comfortable home and all the toys, but if we are a real follower of Jesus, we are citizens of heaven and we do not belong here. And we recognize that these earthly treasures that we might enjoy are not ours to own, and we know that they are not to be a priority to our lives.
The second implication is that we are not truly satisfied here. I remember one summer as a teenager, I spent the summer with some relatives in Tennessee. They were very nice to me, and they did their best to entertain me, but in my heart, I really wasn’t very satisfied that summer. Why? Because I was a visitor; this place was not my home. And that is how Christians feel. We focus on the Lord and on heaven because we know that is where we really belong.
The third implication is that our loyalty is not to this world. It is to Jesus, and only to Jesus. Oh, we enjoy the things we have here, but let me ask you a question about you faith. If you had to make a choice between all the things you have now, or the things you believe you will have in Heaven, which would you choose? I pray you would choose those things in heaven as your priority and your loyalty.