How to live with a Heavenly mindset?
I am here at one of our beloved members homegoing service. We lovingly call him uncle Albert. As I think through his life, the mortality of life itself and the priorities that he had in his life, it is a great reminder that we are not going to live in this world forever. We are all tourists here with limited visa, and because of our brief time here on earth, we must not glory in the things of this world. Let’s explore the passage from Phil 3:20 – Phil 4:1.
Paul’s aim here in Phil 3:20-4:1 is to call the Philippians to forget the human status and achievements that we tend to put so much emphasis on instead to shape their lives and aspirations in keeping with the heavenly commonwealth of Christ. We tend to put some much emphasis on birth, education, the caste, the community, and nation. Paul is saying that their pride and identity should not come from these human accomplishments, but in their identity in Christ.
I see Paul describes the climax of Christian life in four statements at least in this passage.
1. Our citizenship is in heaven.
Phil 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven.” Paul uses a particular term meaning citizens of a country living abroad; to live in a country which is not their own. Therefore, their attitude and behaviour should demonstrate their pledge of allegiance to their homeland.
Paul was talking to Philippians, a Roman colony and he himself was in Rome. He says, that Rome is a beautiful empire and also that the land of Philippi is wonderful place. But our citizenship is not fixed here either in Rome or in Philippi, but is in heaven. We are in this world as a community of exile.
Are we able to affirm along with apostle Paul that our citizenship is not here on earth and that we are simply sojourners?
2. While living in this exile, Christians are awaiting their “Saviour,” the Lord Jesus Christ.
Phill 3:20b says, “And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” As a climax to the book of Philippians, Paul likes to emphasize that believers need to live in anticipation, meaning to wait eagerly, of reaching this commonwealth. We Christians await our Saviour Lord Jesus Christ.
John 14 says there is a place prepared for us and Christ will return to take us there. Paul was able to make tremendous sacrifices and leave his earthly credentials behind, because he had this hope that Jesus will either come back again or that he will be taken up to heaven; an unshakeable hope.
There are some people I have known who live in such great anticipation. But others live as if they would never leave from this earth. Those who don’t live in their own country can testify how much they long to live in their homeland. We recently saw such a great migration happening from South India to North India during the lockdown. Not that these people had much left in their homeland, but they wanted to go back to their home.
Today we have so much in our homeland, how are we sharpening our hope and our expectation?
3. Jesus Christ will transform our humble bodies into the likeness of His glorious body.
Phil 3:21b says, “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” There are at least two things we can see.
a. The earthly body is destined for heavenly existence. When we take late uncle Albert’s body to the graveyard, we sow the body to the ground and it will not stay there forever. Jesus will transform that humble body into His likeness.
b. Believers’ body will undergo a spiritual transformation similar to that of Jesus’ body. Jesus rose from the dead, the first fruit of our resurrection and for those of us who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ that is our destiny too. Death cannot hold us in the grave, but our bodies will rise from the grave at the twinkling of an eye and be transformed into the likeness of the body of Jesus Christ.
4. He will subject all things to Himself.
Phil 3:21 says, “who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control.” He will subject ALL things and not just a few things, like sickness, poverty, authorities, etc. But everything at His coming will be subject to Him.
Phil 2:9 says, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Paul wants to make one climatic statement in Phil 4:1 and he says all of the above things. What does it say? “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!. Based on these 4 truths, he wants them to stand firm and be steadfast.
Uncle Albert has gone ahead of us. How should we live till our time comes? Few days back when I met with uncle Albert’s wife, Mrs. Millie, I said, “It might be little strange now to go to bed without uncle asking for some water or some form of help!” They had lived together for 50 years and she will definitely miss him. We are all in a line to this heavenly homeland. In the meantime, how will we handle loneliness, financial issues and instabilities around us? There will be challenges while we live here on earth, but we can live in Realized Future.
In John 11, Jesus gives us the assurance that those who believe in Christ WILL rise again. Why should we look forward to this reality tomorrow when we can live in this reality and hope today by placing our trust in this amazing Saviour, Whom the Father sent to be our propitiation? He died, was buried and rose victorious over death.
By the time I arrived at uncle Albert’s home, I noticed that his neighbours and friends were already there, taking care of things as if it were their own family. That I say is having the right value! We need neighbours and a community that cares. Loving the elderly, and whether one is red, black, yellow, or white, without getting stuck with caste, creed and race is having right emphases in life!
We need to have these 4 indicatives in our lives. Let’s stay steadfast, unmoved by situations like death or illnesses and live a life free of misplaced emphases, by living eagerly for the heavenly commonwealth.