Out of This World

By Over the last couple of years citizenship has become a passionately debated topic, resultant of the challenges concerning the United States’ borders. While as believers we are to pray for the LORD’s intervention for resolving this turmoil, we also are to contemplate citizenship from a wider view, one that is out of this world. Philippians 3:20 tells us “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The more we recognize our citizenship is not limited by the listing on governmental issued forms of identification, the richer our lives become, and deeper our hope and excitement for what the future holds. The news from within our community and across the world serves as a constant reminder that our true citizenship lies somewhere beyond the confines of this earth. We are bombarded with narratives of wars, rampant crimes, and inhumane treatment inflicted upon one another. In addition, many of us struggle with discord within our homes, neighborhoods, work and school settings. These disheartening occurrences convey the message that the world is a very dark place and threatens the hope we hold onto as believers. During such times, we take great comfort in recognizing the promise shared in 1 Thessalonians 5:5 “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” Until our dream of becoming citizens of heaven is fully realized, living our lives as children of the light is challenging. Fortunately, there are multiple ways the LORD equips us to do so successfully. First is taking Jesus’s words to heart in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble.” Although our first reaction may run the gamut of fear, confusion, discouragement, sadness or anger when unsettling situations arise, it is helpful to heed Jesus’s warning and remember that our citizenship lies beyond this world. In this same scripture, Jesus assures us: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” While there can be an array of actions needed during times of difficulty, the most impactful one is to pray. We are to continually lift up petitions for His interventions when experiencing personal struggles, as well as for those enduring hardships within our communities or across the globe. This is because we are given the reassurance in 2 Peter 2:9 that “the LORD knows how to rescue the godly from trial.” Balancing living on this earth with understanding our citizenship is in heaven requires recognizing we are susceptible to unfair treatment. This involves an assortment of experiences. It may include spouses, who although they honored their marital vows and remained loving, kind and respectful, are still abandoned by their partner. Or, the individual who carefully adheres to both governmental and Biblical commands but becomes the victim of a brutal crime. The hardworking and dedicated employee who is laid off or is continually passed over for promotions is another example of what seems to be unfair. When experiencing circumstances that seem unfair, His word tells us in 1 Peter 1:17 “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.” This verse stresses the LORD is just and will never forget or forsake the righteous. While seeking counseling and/or legal actions may be prudent when experiencing unfairness the most impactful and powerful action is holding firmly to the knowledge the LORD as described in Psalm 18:1-2 is “my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, in whom I take refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Another challenge in remaining grounded in the promise of our heavenly citizenship is the constant exposure to worldly thinking. Every day through social and mainstream media, advertisements, and the myriad of entertainment outlets we are assaulted with information diametrically against the knowledge of the LORD. Romans 12:2 tells us the remedy to this is to “not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Renewing of our minds happens when we daily read and meditate on scripture, pray frequently during our waking hours, and maintain regular fellowship with other believers. In taking such actions we live out Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” We are best equipped to live out our lives as children of the light when heeding the warning shared in 1 Peter 5:8 “ Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Until our citizenship in heaven is completely fulfilled, we do have an enemy here on earth and this passage reminds us the evil one relentlessly pursues his victims. In response Ephesians 6:11 instructs us to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:14-17 reads like a playbook for donning this armor. The major tenets of living a victorious life including knowing His truth, holding on to His peace, seeking His righteousness, embracing His word, and standing firm in the faith are poetically described in these well-known verses. As believers whose citizenship is not limited to what our passports, birth or immigration certifications indicate, we operate differently than many within the world do. Maintaining a heaven bound mindset entails being intentional about how to best spend our time in the current moments. Our time on earth is optimally spent growing in relationship with Him and communicating with as many people as possible that the true basis of salvation, peace, hope, love, and joy lies within the source that is out of this world. Citizenship in heaven is promised for anyone who willingly acknowledges Jesus is that one and only source.