Summary: Paul reminds us that our citizenship as Christians is in Heaven.
Philippians 3:15--4:1 – “Where do you call home?”
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni
November 5th, 2006
15All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, 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.
4:1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
(As told by Wendy Zoba) When our middle son, Ben, was much younger, he had heard more than one sermon about the importance of surrendering our lives to Christ. And Ben seemed well-attuned to the heart of God; he exhibited the selfless and kind tendencies that would take some -- like his mother -- a lifetime of sanctification to acquire. So it disturbed my husband and me when Ben stubbornly resisted our invitations for him to give his life to Christ. He would offer no explanations; he would simply tell us in his preschool English that he wasn’t ready.
He resisted for several months. Then, one morning as we sat around the kitchen table eating our Cheerio’s, little Ben announced that he was ready to give his life to Christ. He then got up from the table and went upstairs.
My husband and I looked at each other and followed him. I guess we expected to find Ben on his knees in prayer. We didn’t. Instead, we found him folding his Star Wars pyjamas into his Sesame Street suitcase.
We said, "Ben, what are you doing?" He answered, "Packing."
"Why?" we asked. "To go to heaven," he said.
We then understood why our child hesitated to give his life to Christ. He thought that, in so doing, he would have to leave us and take up residence, literally, with Christ in heaven.
In our passage today we see Paul talking about our citizenship in Heaven as Christians.
It’s not something we give a lot of thought to, in our busy lives.
We might become Christians because we want to spend eternity with Jesus, but too often we leave our heavenly passports tucked away,
and spend more time working on our temporary dwelling places.
Let’s see what Paul has to say in this passage.
‘ALL OF US WHO ARE MATURE SHOULD TAKE SUCH A VIEW OF THINGS” begs the question “What things”?
Paul has just finished burning the ears of those who would corrupt the gospel. His words are combative, intolerant and even abrasive.
There is no room in his mind for accepting a version of the “good news, non fiction message” that takes away from the completeness of what
Jesus has done for us.
He has also just encouraged the Philippians to put the past behind them and “to press on toward the goal, to win the prize for which God has called (them) heavenward in Christ Jesus”.
Paul is not attacking tradition here; he is saying that he is putting his old lifestyle behind him and striving to live out his new life in Christ.
His old lifestyle was trying to earn his way to God,
his new lifestyle is enjoying his salvation in Christ
and striving to be more and more like him.
So when Paul says, “ALL OF US WHO ARE MATURE SHOULD TAKE SUCH A VIEW ON THINGS”, he is telling us to be wary of those who would pollute our message and also to strive to live out that message.
Now this is difficult, and even more so when you realize he is talking to a group, not just one person. As people we can all hear the same words and end up with more interpretations than people in a room.
One joke I’ve heard told goes like this:
“Have you heard of the special committee bus?”
“Well, it’s got 1 engine, three steering wheels and ten sets of brakes”
Such is working together. But it’s part of who we are, and something we need to work on.