Living Life with God's Irrepressible Joy
Remember back to a couple of weeks ago when we talked about “Citizen Behavior?” We discovered that for the Philippians, citizenship was a prized possession and something they were gifted with. However, they were not only citizens of the prestigious Roman Empire, but were also citizens of heaven.
As Paul writes:
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await 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. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for,
my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”
Did you notice the three letter word at the beginning of this passage? But. This is such an important word and yet so easy to miss. But is a contrasting word. It gives the impression of “wait, there’s more.” So in the context of this passage, what does the but contrast or compare?
The verse that precedes the one quoted above is Philippians 3:19:
“Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
Here, Paul is specifically referring to the Judaizers and false teachers who are out to destroy the church. But in reading Philippians 3:19, this could also describe anyone living for the world. So ultimately, Paul is comparing those who live for this world—those who glory in their shame and have their minds set on earthly things—with us, citizens of heaven.
We are different. We are meant to stand out and be completely opposite. The rest of the world is ending in destruction and have their belly as their god, but our citizenship is in heaven. We don’t belong to this world. We are merely sojourners, travelers.
This is the glory of the gospel! That through Christ, we have been gifted citizenship in the best kingdom. And not only do we belong in heaven, but we will also be given a new body that will befit our place in the kingdom. This is an amazing promise and glorious hope that helps get us through the tough things we experience on this earth.
So when life gets tough. When our world continues to get torn apart by the rampant brokenness we see each and every day. When we get discouraged by all the people living for the here and now, remember that our citizenship is in heaven.
And because we are citizens of a different place, let us stand firm in the Lord. Even though the world is falling apart and getting darker, we shall stand strong—rooted and grounded in Christ—because we know that we are merely passing through and our eternal home is waiting for us.