Citizens of Heaven

“But our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to Himself.”—Philippians 3:20-21

Think about these words in light of who he is writing to. Remember what Philippi was—a Roman colony. They were not citizens of Philippi, they were citizens of Rome. Their life in Philippi was always lived with an eye towards Rome.

Notice how Paul draws us to the present reality of our citizenship. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are Christians! If we have been united with Christ in his death, there is a real sense in which we have already been raised to new life. We have a new father. Our father was the devil, now it is God the Father. We have a new identity. Our life was identified with Adam in his death. Now we are identified with Jesus in his death. We have a new citizenship. Once we were citizens of Babylon. Now we are citizens of the new Jerusalem.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”—2 Corinthians 5:17

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”—Galatians 6:14,15

There is also a sense in which we have not yet been raised. We have a Savior who has saved us and we await a Savior who will save us. He has made all things new and He is making all things new. If our citizenship is in heaven, then our greatest glory is yet to come. Our great salvation is yet to be fully realized. It stills dwells within jars of clay. We still inwardly groan for the restoration of all things. Nothing reminds of this more constantly than these lowly bodies. I can’t tell you the number of times just this week I found myself frustrated with my weaknesses and limitations. One day that will all change. Jesus will transform this lowly body to be like His glorious body. We will finally be what we were created to be. We will be truly human.

Just as Paul calls the Philippian believers his joy and crown, we will be the joy and crown of the Triune God. We will fully reflect and enjoy His glory for all eternity. If Jesus has been raised in glory, if He has been highly exalted, if all things have been placed under His feet, then surely He can lift us up to unimaginable heights and inexpressible joys.

What a great reminder for us today. While we are dwelling in this earthly colony, as good citizens of heaven, we are striving and pressing every day to make this place (our bodies, our homes, our jobs, our world) bear a greater resemblance to our true country. Remember, the Philippians constantly lived with an eye toward Rome. Their lives were not characterized by where they lived but by who they were. For those of us who are Christians, we also live with an eye toward the Far Country, the Promised Land. Our King is coming in glory. The new Jerusalem will descend. Resurrected bodies will live on a resurrected earth. The darkest corners of the world, just like the darkest corners of our hearts, will shine with the fullness of His glory and grace.

This is our salvation! This is the noble purpose for which He has called us! He is not coming to do away with the body but to transform it. He is not coming to take away from us taste and smell and thinking and working and playing and loving and laughing and learning and creating and discovering and singing—He is coming to raise all these things to their rightful place. Morning is coming. Resurrection is coming. Though sorrow may last through the night, joy comes in the morning. Good Christian men and women, rejoice! And become who your are!

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