Going Deeper 3/14/2019

The second reading for Lent 2...
Philippians 3:17-4:1   Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.  For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears.  Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.  Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. 

What did Paul mean by the statement "But our citizenship is in heaven"?  I have quoted before a pithy statement I heard somewhere: Some people are so heavenly-minded that they are of no earthly use.  This is aimed at those who are so focused on eternal life that they fail to realize we have a calling to fulfill before we get there-- our calling to bring God's love to this broken world through our words and our deeds.

But Paul seems to be addressing those who are so earthly-minded that they are of no heavenly use.  This would be those who succumb to the temptation to be so focused and tied into "earthly things" and relationships that they are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order to fulfill our calling to bring God's love to this broken world through our words and our deeds.  It is important to realize that "our citizenship is in heaven" and that changes how we are to live here on the earth.

There is another implication that comes from knowing that "our citizenship is in heaven", one that may have been at the forefront of Paul's mind.  Sometimes our journey on this earth is difficult and fraught with suffering.  This was obviously very true for Paul and was true for many of the early Christians as they faced persecution-- as many Christians still do today.  In remembering our ultimate citizenship in heaven, we can find the strength and hope to endure times of trial.

May this text "afflict us if we're too comfortable, and comfort us if we are too afflicted"!

With You in Him,
Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

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