As believers in Christ, we are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:19-20). This world is no longer our home. As Larry Norman reminded us fifty years ago, we’re only visiting this planet. It sounds bizarre when you say it out loud, but the truth is often that way. Our time here is temporary. Eternity with Christ awaits us. While I don’t believe we should squander our time on earth, just biding our time until we see Jesus,
I also believe it’s important to keep the proper perspective while we are here. Think of it as an extended business trip with an occasional vacation. We know we’re going to be leaving, so there’s no point in getting attached to anything. We have a job to do and very little time to do it.
John warned us not to become enamored with the things of this world. Specifically, he called out “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle” (I John 2:15-17). Despite the warning, we live our lives in direct opposition to it. We crave things we perceive will bring us pleasure and happiness. Whatever we have is never good enough. There is always something we want more. When we achieve a modicum of success, we forget who gifted us with the abilities to make that happen. Instead of living in a state of constant thankfulness, it’s all too easy to become prideful and arrogant. We love the things of this world.
If you’ve ever visited a foreign country or even a distant city, you know what it’s like to feel like an outsider. We aren’t citizens there. We aren’t home. It should be the same for us in our day-to-day lives. We are citizens of Heaven, not of this world. We are outsiders. When you visit a new place, you are a little more alert. You don’t know the intentions of the people. Perhaps you don’t even speak the language. So, you are careful who you trust, and you stick to the places that you know. It’s the same in our Christian walk. It would be foolish to stumble around in the dark of a place we don’t know well. Instead, we must stick to the light of Christ so we don’t stumble in the darkness and fall into the hands of evil forces.
As citizens of Heaven, we should stick out like tourists. Everywhere we go, it must be obvious we don’t belong. In my travels, I’ve found the locals break down into three groups: those who ignore you because they are more interested in their own lives, those who resent you, and those who genuinely are interested in hearing about where you come from. It is to the last group we must take the good news of Jesus. When people recognize you are different, some will want to know why. That is our moment to share Christ with them.
We have a mission here. It’s not to become like the citizens of this world, but to stand apart as citizens of Heaven. We are not to love the things of this world, but to share our love for Jesus with all those who will listen. No matter how comfortable you’ve become in this place, your comfort will come to a sudden and unexpected end. The things of this world are nothing more than an illusion. Stop acting as if you belong here. If Jesus is your Lord, the things of this world should not entice you. We’ve got a mission to complete while visiting this planet. We are citizens of Heaven. Shouldn’t we act like it?