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Living Here for There

June 9, 2017

“Our citizenship is in heaven” Philippians 3:20

Victoria Perez watched as the Cessna touched down on the road in the distance. When she was sure it was him, she shouted to her children, “That’s your father!” Grabbing the little ones, they ran to the plane and scrambled aboard. The engine buzzed to life, and the tiny aircraft lifted off. They were finally leaving Cuba. It had been two years since her husband Orestes had defected to the United States, and he had finally returned to fly them to their new home in America.

I am sure that Victoria initially lived for the day that her husband would return and take her to their new home in a better land! But I wonder, not knowing when he would return, if she ever gave up hope and hunkered down in her home in Cuba as though it was the only home she would ever have?

You’re probably connecting the dots. As followers of Jesus, this world is not really our home. For the most part, it’s not all that bad a place to live—but it’s still not home. Jesus has not only gone to prepare a place for us but has promised that He will come again to take us there (John 14:1-6). And as Paul notes in our text for today, our citizenship is in heaven. So, until we get there, we need to consider ourselves transient, like immigrants on our way to a better place. Saint John the Divine said it best when he wrote: “God is at home; we are in the far country.”

So what should we do to keep our eyes toward heaven and our hearts fixed on our new home?

Our first challenge is to remember that we are people of a different nation. We are people of His kingdom (Colossians 1:12-13). As citizens of a different land, we live by the principles of our homeland. We are generous, we forgive, we serve others instead of ourselves, we are patient and kind and extend mercy and grace whenever we can. Jesus is our King and we live to be like Him. Like pasta is to Italians, so living like Jesus is to people who are citizens of heaven!

With Abraham, we consider ourselves strangers and aliens here, desiring a better country (Hebrews 11:13-16). It’s not that we are aliens in the weird sense. We don’t have antennas on our heads and green skin. But if we know where we are headed, we will be different—wonderfully different!

Of course, there are things to enjoy and appreciate here. Being citizens of heaven doesn’t mean that we don’t live to revel in the glory of God in art, music, nature, friendships, love, and the material gifts that He has graciously bestowed on us. But when we are headed home, those things don’t ever tempt us to set up permanent residence in their pleasure. In fact, if we were to lose everything here, we could still hold our head high because we can never lose our greatest treasure: Jesus and the home where He will take us when He comes again. We live in the midst of both pleasure and pain with the confidence that the best is yet to come!

The old hymn gets it right when it says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” Victoria Perez must have known that. As she and her children ran for the plane, one of the kids lost a shoe. “Forget the shoe!” Victoria yelled. “Father is in the plane!”  

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • The Bible says that heaven is for people who trust Jesus Christ as their Savior. If you don’t know Him, read the following verses to discover how to invite Jesus into your heart: Romans 3:10; 3:23; 5:12; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-13.
  • Do you ever get tired of living in a place that is not your home? Search the New Testament for verses that show what heaven (your true home) is like. Make a list of all the things you are looking forward to when you arrive!
  • Are you living as if this earth is your true home? Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the beauty of unhindered service for Christ.