Transformed by heavenly citizenship

Posted Sep 26, 2020

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Daily Scripture

(We encourage you to read all of Philippians 3 each day this week. As you do today, focus on verses 20-21, printed below.)

Philippians 3:20-21

20 Our citizenship is in heaven. We look forward to a savior that comes from there—the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform our humble bodies so that they are like his glorious body, by the power that also makes him able to subject all things to himself.

Reflection Questions

Paul wrote, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” Scholar N. T. Wright helped us see what that meant: “We naturally suppose he means ‘and so we’re waiting until we can go and live in heaven where we belong’. But that’s not what he says, and it’s certainly not what he means. If someone in Philippi said, ‘We are citizens of Rome,’ they certainly wouldn’t mean ‘so we’re looking forward to going to live there’. Being a colony works the other way round. The last thing the emperors wanted was a whole lot of colonists coming back to Rome. The capital was already overcrowded…. No: the task of the Roman citizen in a place like Philippi was to bring Roman culture and rule to northern Greece, to expand Roman influence there…. The church is at present a colony of heaven, with the responsibility (as we say in the Lord’s Prayer) for bringing the life and rule of heaven to bear on earth.”*

  • Too often Christians think being “citizens of heaven” means that we don’t care what happens to this sad, troubled world we live in. But Jesus didn’t ignore people’s needs, saying “Someday I’ll make it all better” (cf. Matthew 4:23-24). Paul, following Jesus' example, was in prison because instead of finding a quiet retreat he traveled constantly, calling often-hostile citizens of the Roman Empire to the better life that came with making Jesus, not Caesar, their true Lord. In keeping with the “colony” idea about which he wrote to the Philippians, he told another group of Christians, “We are ambassadors who represent Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). In what ways are you living as an ambassador, a colonist seeking to bring the life and rule of heaven to bear on earth? How can you join others in your congregation to carry out that mission?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you’re not going to be my Lord “someday.” You are Lord of my life today, with work for me to do for your kingdom. Give me your heart for this hurting world. Amen.


* Wright, N.T., Paul for Everyone, The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 126). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

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Kat Friedel

Kat Friedel

Kat Friedel, a third-year seminary student at Saint Paul School of Theology, is a pastoral care intern in Congregational Care at Resurrection Leawood. She works with Rev. Steve Langhofer. Kat especially enjoys hospital visits, rehab visits, and her work with Silver Link. Kat is an inquirer for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA), pursuing her call to Pastoral Care Ministry. When she is not working or in school you can find Kat with her dog, Copper, at the dog park. Her favorite book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and her favorite foods are pizza and brownies!

Coming soon!

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