Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.
Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God Himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.
Where does your citizenship reside?
Have you ever been to another country? Sometimes you don’t even have to leave the country to find a place that will give you culture shock.
I was once traveling across the US and had to stop in Georgia for gas and refreshments. I got out of the car and went into the convenience store to grab a couple of soda’s. When I got to the cash register the man behind the counter said something to me and I swear he was speaking a whole different language. His accent was so thick I couldn’t understand a word he said. I remember just nodding and smiling as I left the store. Things were different in Georgia; people were different and they did things and said things differently then I did.
As a people, human beings have a tendency to become who they spend time with or what they spend time doing. I have an family member that I grew up with in Oregon who later entered the military. He spent a lot of time in the southern states and when he finally came home for a visit he had a strong southern accent. He had been affected and changed by where he lived.
We even title ourselves after what we do or what we like.
“I’m a computer technician”
“I’m a rock climber”
“I’m a christian”
In verse 27 we see Paul encouraging the Philippians to live as though they are citizens of heaven. That’s a pretty high calling. He hints that if they live this way,
“Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose,”.
He makes it clear that he would recognize them even if he only heard about them. If someone was talking about a good friend of yours but never used their name, only characteristics to describe them, would you know who they were talking about?
Would you recognize someone that was a citizen of heaven?
Being a citizen of heaven means that you will be different and Paul makes it very clear that this difference will make life a struggle. He tells us why in verse 28…
Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God Himself.
You see, when you truly start living the life of a citizen of heaven your life will condemn those who you come in contact with. It will give them “culture shock” and remind them that they live contrary to the Will of God. This usually results in one of three outcomes.
1. They will recognize you as different and avoid spending time with you.
2. They will be so offended by you that they will seek to persecute you.
3. They will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and make a choice that they want to be like you.
So, now let’s ask ourselves – are other people “shocked” when they are around me? Do they notice that I’m different in some way or am I so worldly in everything that I do that I seem to be “just one of them”? Are they amazed at my capacity to love and forgive? Do they get a sense of what the Good News is really all about? Does my life shine the light of Jesus on theirs?
Dear Father in Heaven,
I recognize the worldliness in my life, yet I have a deep desire to not be of this world. I ask for Your Holy Spirit to dwell in me today so that I am clearly a citizen of heaven. You can accomplish this good work in me. Please do so.
Thank You for loving me that much. Thank You for giving Your Son and for allowing Him to take my place on the cross. Help me never to forget this.
Forgive my sin. Cleanse my heart.
Please be with my family and friends. Keep them all safe and draw them closer to You. I love You Lord. Amen.