What do you think heaven will be like? Have you thought about who else is there?
“Citizenship” implies we are not alone—we are citizens together, with shared rights, privileges, allegiances, and obligations. We live in and belong to a community—a shared place.
For the people of Philippi, citizenship also brought with it a much more valuable citizenship in Rome because Philippi was a Roman colony. But it is likely that many Philippian Christians were enslaved and therefore without worldly status of any kind. Therefore, when Paul affirms that “our citizenship is in heaven,” he is doubling down on its being a collective reality, insisting on “our” belonging there. He is asserting that it is good news that all Christians belong with and to one another.
I regularly struggle with this good news of an eternal community because—I confess—there are people I prefer not to spend any time with, much less all time. (I won’t say that some of them are in my church, but I won’t say they aren’t either.) But I am comforted by Paul’s promise that Jesus “will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory.” Scripture reminds us that—beginning with our families and congregations and extending across denominational and national boundaries—our lives as Christ followers give us access to incredible grace and life-changing responsibility.
Our citizenship in heaven asserts that we belong in God’s grace together with all those throughout the world who seek it. Above our other allegiances and identities, we claim this holy life together.
Christ, help me desire—more than any other treasure—citizenship in your heaven together with all your children. Amen.
This week’s readings give witness to God’s ways and provide confidence and hope in our faith. In Genesis we read of God’s promise to Abram, a promise that seems very unlikely to a man with no children. But God seals the covenant, and the story later shows that God never breaks God’s promises. The psalmist, even while mired in conflict, praises God for being his light, his salvation, his stronghold. The psalmist longs to be in God’s presence forever, a desire that can inspire all of us as believers. Paul says that in the future reality, we will no longer experience resistance from those who oppose God. One day Christ will fully transform us to our citizenship in heaven. Jesus himself experienced resistance even in Jerusalem, yet he ultimately triumphed, as will all those who trust in God.
Read Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18. How can you take a step forward in the dark toward God’s seemingly impossible promises for the future?
Read Psalm 27. Recall a time when you waited in the shadows of your life. What did you learn about God’s provision during this time?
Read Philippians 3:17–4:1. How do you live in the paradox of standing firm in faith by being vulnerable?
Read Luke 13:31-35. When have you been unwilling to accept love? How can you comprehend the depth and yearning of God’s love for you?
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