For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20)
We are all earthly citizens, as evidenced, you know, by living here and all. We breathe the air and drink the water; we are people, our feet firmly upon this earth. And with our earthly inhabitance, comes other facets—namely, that our hearts are governed by an earthly mindset, a worldly worldview. This worldview of the City of Man is dominated by the same things. These things—money, power, sex, prestige—guide all of us and our decisions, as we step on others to get to the top or to get more notoriety or to “make it.” We are all after the same things, and none of these things offer any lasting sense of joy, peace, comfort, belonging, or fulfillment. Truly, it is a chasing after the wind, only we can grasp the very emptiness of these things tangibly in our hands and hearts yet be hollow all the same.
But, in Christ, we are made Citizens of Heaven. While presently this is a dual citizenship—we still live here—it will not always be this way: we will be going home. And while we inhabit this earth and see the wayward effects of the City of Man, our heavenly citizenship and all of its perks are not nullified in the least. They may not all be fully realized, but that does not make them any less guaranteed—for we are citizens there for all eternity and blessed there forever.
What this means, quite simply, is that we do not have to live under the oppressive, chaffing yoke of the City of Man. As citizens of the Heavenly City we promised many things:
-a mansion prepared for us
-riches stored up
-that we are accepted (adopted even!) by a loving, generous God
-total peace and joy
-no more sorrow or pain
-the protection of a just and mighty warrior
-complete, constantly overflowing fulfillment
This means we do not have to strive for money; we do not have to give in to the worries of this day; we do not have to prove anything; we do not have “to rise above”; we do not have to use hate or control or slander to gain every ounce of power; we do not have to strive for fulfillment and constantly seek self-esteem and acceptance.
Truly, the only response when one realizes that he or she HAS everything is to give something away.
In a post-earthquake visit to Haiti, I was met with an unparalleled poverty: over a million orphans roamed the streets; decay ran rampant; odious tent cities became homes to thousands. Upon exiting the airplane and seeing this stark despair and then rivaling that with the two-story home and three square meals I was used to and would be returning to, I realized this: I have everything. My US citizenship gave me access to so much. Truly if these people could see the affluence I would be returning too, their chins would collide with their shrunken-in chests. And with this realization my own comfort-seeking went out the window. In my time there, I wasn’t worried about souvenirs or rest or being sure I was well-fed. I wasn’t looking for ways to make a buck or how to become popular. In those precious few days all I cared about is what I could give to a people with so little.
Might we realize our own spiritual wealth in an impoverished world and live thusly. In Christ, we have everything, so the question becomes what can we give away? How can we give love and grace freely? How can we serve others rather than vain attempts at dominating and controlling them? How can replace judgment with mercy? How can we give out of the unending wealth we’ve been given?
We live in this world but are citizens of another. May we be reminded of the blessedness of that citizenship.