Citizens of Heaven


(Joshua Elder) #1

The Christian can sometimes walk a fine line. We are called to be a light in this world that speaks about the glory of our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:14-16). We are to give thanks in all circumstances of this life (1 Thess. 5:18). We are called to work diligently in good works that God has prepared for us in this world to do (Eph. 2:10).

However, we also know that we are foreigners in this world. We live in a broken world surrounded by evil and death. We know that ultimately our citizenship is in heaven. As it says of the people of faith in Hebrews:

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country-- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Heb 11:13-16 NIV)

We are waiting on an enduring city, not one that is passing away. We have tasted of this eternity in our salvation through Jesus Christ and we know He waits for us in heaven. D. L. Moody put it like this:

“We say this is the land of the living! It is not. It is the land of the dying. What is our life here but a vapor? A hearse is the most common sight. Families broken into. Over there is one who has lost a father, there a mother, there is a place vacant, there a sister’s name is no more heard, there a brother’s love is missed. Death stalks triumphant through our midst, in this world. Only yesterday I met a mother who had lost her babe. Death in front of us, death behind us, death to the right of us, death to the left of us. . . . But look at the other world. No death, no pain, no sorrow, no old age, no sickness, no bending forms, no dimmed eyes, no tears. But joy, peace, love, happiness. No gray hair. People all young. River of life for the healing of the nations, and everlasting life. Think of it! Life! Life! Life without end! And yet so many men choose this life on earth, instead of the life in Heaven. Don’t close your heart against eternal life. Only take the gift, only take it. Will you do it?”

How do you see this contrast playing out in your life as a blessing to this world, but a citizen of heaven?

(SeanO) #2

The old saying that some people are ‘so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good’ is, to me, only true if someone’s view of Heaven is wrong. A self-centered view of Heaven - where it is all about my personal freedom from anxiety may lead to such an attitude. But in the Scriptures Jesus Himself is eternal life - He is Heaven - and He is love. So to truly look to Heaven is to be like Christ - to be so full of the love of God that we would willingly die that another might be reconciled to the Father. If our hearts are set on Heaven as it truly is - on that Christ-like love - on Christ Himself - then we will not be able to help but desire that God’s will be done ‘on earth as it is in Heaven’ for all those whom we encounter.

Lewis put it well:

"A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.” C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

(Joshua Spare) #3

Thanks so much for asking such a poignant question, @Joshua_Elder! For asking such a thoughtful question, that must certainly mean that you also have a thoughtful response?

(Sandy) #4

Good question, Joshua. Just couple of days ago I heard myself quoting Jesus in the gospels “…whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it”. Sean, always wondered at who coined that phrase. Hmmm! Understanding that I have been translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son Col 1:13, called as an ambassador for Christ 2 Cor 5:20, in the ministry of reconciliation 2 Cor 5:18…I therefore draw as needed on all that is available for the good works I’m saved unto. In May, as Ambassador Friedman got much attention during the US Embassy move to Jerusalem, I got to thinking about the role. Our role…to be salt and light, as good representatives for Jesus! With my many failures…yet how can I even hope do this. Paul exhorts us in Titus 2, how to live in this present world, though we’re not of it John 17. Reminds us of the “grace of God” given us…while we look for “that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”. And John in 1Jn 3:3 says “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” 1 Pet 2:11 he also beseeches us how to live…reminding us we’re “strangers and pilgrims”. Scripture in many places shows that to be heaven-minded, looking for the coming of the Lord (do I hear Rapture? :)) indeed, as a bride preparing for her groom, the church purifies herself. Indeed, it is only in living in this truth; that my citizenship is in heaven, that I can ever hope to be any earthly good! In becoming more like Christ, we bring the kingdom to the world around us.