Paul writes in Philippians 3:20, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” Christians are exiles on this earth because we are away from our home. From the time a sinner believes until the time he dies, he is a sojourner, a pilgrim, and awaits a reward in heaven.
Where is your citizenship? If you live in the United States, you are obviously an American. If you are a fan of soccer and the World Cup, you probably support Team USA, but some support other nations because of ancestry and other ties. I’ll be supporting Germany, as I’m ¼ German and Iceland (who doesn’t love a good underdog?).
I was recently watching a “friendly” match between the United States and Ghana with some folks who were wearing Red, White, and Blue. The game was in Connecticut and there were some fans from Ghana in the stands wearing the colors of the Ghanaian flag and traditional Ghanaian clothes. I heard a gentleman say, “If they like Ghana so much then why are they here, wearing that stuff?” At first, the patriot in me thought he was right, but then I thought more about it. If I moved to a far-away country and had the opportunity to watch Team USA play against that country, I would go in a heartbeat. I would definitely not be wearing the colors of my adopted German country, but would proudly wear the red, white, and blue.
This leads back to what Paul was saying. Our citizenship is in heaven. As Christians, we are on the earth in a place that is at times unfamiliar. We belong to heaven. So, while we are here on earth do we want to wear our old colors of sin and death? Or will we choose to wear the glorious colors if you will of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Put off the old self, put on the new self, as Paul says in Ephesians 4:22-24.
1 Peter 1:17-19 puts it best when Peter writes, “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
All Christians are in exile. We live in a country that is not our home and because of this exile we can choose to do one of three things:
1. We can whine and complain like the Israelites who wandered for forty years in the wilderness. They complained so much that they would have preferred to go back to captivity in Egypt (Exodus 14:11).
2. We can conform to the place where we are being held captive. Think of the captives who did not follow the path of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel. They chose to eat the food from the king’s table of plenty (Daniel 1:1-21).
3. We can choose to continually follow our Lord and Savior. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel chose to not eat food from the king’s table but were actually healthier than those who did eat it. They withstood persecution by refusing to bow down to the king and to continue to pray to God (Daniel 3:1-30).
So, which of the three paths will you choose today? And I say today because every day we choose to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). We choose to obey him or continue to sin. My prayer is that you choose the third way and allow Jesus to continually work in you to make you a better servant for himself (Ephesians 2:10).