“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 3:20
The Apostle Paul was a rightful citizen of a powerful earthly nation, a vast empire; namely, Rome. He called on this fact when he was being persecuted as though he was not. Yet, while he could prove such, his far more prestigious citizenship, heaven, caused a particularly heinous Caesar, current emperor of Rome, to have him executed for his faith.
We who celebrated the birthday of our country yesterday are citizens of a great and powerful nation. America has enjoyed the favor of God for a long season, nearly two and a half centuries. It is a nation in which its citizens can be proud, though there are those who relish the benefits of her citizenship while still disdaining her. Such are still unwilling to abandon that citizenship, though often promising to do so.
There are many blessings to being a US citizen, so much so that many in the world are clamoring to become one. Anyone who has had the privilege to travel the world and make comparisons is almost always more than ready to come home to her shores, stretching “from sea to shining sea.” Those who were born here or adopted America as their new home are truly blessed. Things truly could be much worse elsewhere.
But many other people spread throughout the world love their own distinctive homeland, their native language, their peculiar and familiar culture, the families of which they are a part. So why yearn for something beyond? Something beyond Earth’s boundaries?
The answers are clear to those who know better. Citizenship here is temporary. “Time like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away!” Citizenship here is not eternal, thank God. The world is fallen, and despite the obvious blessings of creation, there are still many “thorns and thistles” of every sort: physical, mental, spiritual; anguish, tears, pain, disease, evil; injustice, unfairness, and, too frequently, not a farthing of forgiveness. I think we all wonder how Methuselah could stand to live on a fallen Earth for as long as he did.
There are powerful yearnings for heaven by the community of faith. There are also yearnings for “something else” from the community of the faithless. But the “something else” for those who reject faith is nothing for which to yearn. Oblivion is far better than the Scripture-prescribed option. Life for every conceived person is destined for Judgment. Being a citizen of humanity is nothing trivial. Every human life is sacred. It is hard to believe of all the masses of humanity, but so it is. God makes the mundane and common by sheer numbers sacred! Every life is made important by the Creator and by creation’s Judge.
Given the declarations of an almighty and sovereign God, citizenship in heaven is the most desirable status of being created, of being human. Celebrate today beyond the birthday of a wonderful homeland; celebrate by your faith your citizenship in heaven, the home of the truly brave and the land of the truly free.
“The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks; the summer morn I’ve sighed for, the fair, sweet morn awakes; dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand, and glory, glory dwelleth in Emmanuel’s land.”
(1st verse of Samuel Rutherford and Anne Cousin’s hymn, “The Sands of Time Are Sinking,” 1857)
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