Jump Start # 2110
Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I got in last night from a long road trip. My wife and I drove to Texas to see one of our kids and his family. We spent more than a dozen hours driving home yesterday. So, this morning, I am dragging. But it’s good to be home. When you have been away, nothing beats home. Your own bed. Coffee out of your own cup. Your favorite chair. There is truly no place like home. We are comfortable at home. We are used to things at home. We know where the silverware drawer is. We know what light switches turns on which lights. Things are just as we like them. Our closets may be stuffed and crowded, but we know where things are. Road trips, business trips, and even amazing vacations, there’s nothing beats that feeling of just resting in your own bed in your own house.
All of this takes us to our verse today and a spiritual principle. Philippi was a Roman colony. Soldiers and the Roman way was very familiar to the residents of Philippi. Yet, to those belonging to Jesus, Paul reminded them that our citizenship is in Heaven. We belong to Heaven. We sing a song, “This world is not my home…”
First, you and I can be awfully comfortable here. We can like the surroundings so much that we don’t mind just calling this place home. Spiritually, that’s dangerous. We don’t fit in here spiritually. We are going a different direction, define life in different terms and are after different things than what the world offers. Peter told his readers that they were strangers and pilgrims. We can find ourselves talking too much like the world and fitting in just too comfortably here. We find ourselves using words that may not be directly wrong, but are very suggestive, off color and fitting in too well with the world we live in. We can do that with our clothing as well. We find ourselves dressing like the world, suggestively, immodestly, and improper for people who do not belong here.
I love to travel. I do a bit of it all the time. I stay in hotels. I stay with brethren in their homes. I stay with the kids. Each time is an adventure and each time is rewarding. But, it’s not home. It’s not my schedule. It’s not my world as I am used to it. I never rest well when traveling. It’s just not home. I fear that sometimes we fit in so well with the world that we do not notice a spiritual difference. We don’t hear the “bad” words in movies anymore. We don’t see the suggestive implications on TV shows. We don’t pick up on the false teaching in books. We don’t see the consequences of what some are saying or have a knowledge of where that thinking leads to.
Second, not only can be become so comfortable here, but we find ourselves fitting in very well. We don’t see differences. We don’t recognize distinctions. We don’t realize that we ought to be different. And, when that happens, we tend to blend in and not stand out. The concept of holiness, means to be distinct, special, different. We understand that at home. We have paper plates and our every day dishes. At Thanksgiving, when the family is over, we pull out the special dishes. They are special. They are not to be used everyday. Holiness means to be separate, distinct, special. We are holy as Jesus is holy. This concepts connects us to being that light unto the world or that city set upon a hill. We are noticed. We are different.
There are different ways of being different. Some, are different by the rejection of all things modern. The Amish community is like that. They continue to travel in horse and buggy in a world of fast automobiles. Muslim women stand out for having their hair covered. It’s easy to recognize them. A Catholic priest is easy to recognize because of the white collar he wears. The drive of the N.T. is that we are different from the inside out. It is our hearts that make us different. In a world that is consumed with self, we are servants. In a world that is vain, we are humble. In a world that does what it wants, we follow Christ. We are compassionate, gracious and forgiving in a world that demands full payment for mistakes. In communities that are ever progressing religiously, pushing the envelope of following what society demands, we are looking backwards to the way of Christ.
It is easy to not only become comfortable here, but to even lose our distinction. It’s easy to assume one church is basically the same as another. You have Burger King and McDonald’s. They are both hamburger places. You have one denomination and down the street is another. Both are churches. Both are basically the same. Go to the one that suits you the best, that’s the thinking today. No distinctions. No concern about doctrine. No thought about how close they follow the N.T. pattern. Distinctions blur and merge into all being basically the same. This happens when we want to be like everyone else around us. Ancient Israel wanted a physical king like the nations around them. In doing that, they rejected God. They got what they wanted. A king who took their hearts away from God and led them into all kinds of trouble.
Finally, the problem with becoming so accustomed to the world is that we lose our desire to go to Heaven. We like it here. We want to stay here. And, Heaven becomes a faded dream that no longer has a focus in our life. And, when that happens, the only real difference between us and the person of the world is where you find us on Sunday. The person of the world remains in bed and we are sitting in a pew, but other than that, what we do, what we wear, the way we think and even the way we talk, are all pretty much the same. Stressed, worried, confused and focused on the here and now, obsessed with stuff and having no desire to change the way we are, the man of the world and the man of God can look the same. We wonder why evangelism fails today. If there is little difference between me and my neighbor, other than going to church services, why should he listen to me. He’s already busy. He doesn’t have time to fit church into his schedule. And, since he sees no difference in the way we live, he sees no advantage in standing where I stand. It’s not my neighbor. It may be me that’s the problem. Maybe I’m too much like he is. Maybe he doesn’t see any hope in my life. Maybe there is no need to ask me about the hope in my life. Maybe, just maybe, this ole’ world has gotten to me and I’m too much like the world. Maybe I’ve forgotten where my citizenship is.
When I’m on the road, I miss being home. I don’t ever want to miss that spiritually. It just may be one reason why so many Christians struggle with the subject of death, is that they are not sure of what’s next and they don’t want to leave here. Paul had a different view of things. He longed to be with the Lord. He understood that would be far better. Get me out of this place, ought to be our way of thinking. Do all that we can to help others, but we never take our eyes off of Heaven. Never.
Home. Heaven. Are you getting too comfortable here? Are you fitting in too well here? Have you lost your taste for Heaven? It’s time to take a deep look at where your heart is leading you. You can have a blast here, but if you miss Heaven, as our old friend, Dee Bowman always preached, you’ve just missed it all.
It’s good to be home. Someday, we’ll say the same when we are in Heaven.