Citizens of Heaven
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (NASU)
If you have ever visited a country other than your native country, you might have felt a little strange or uncomfortable. I live in the US, and our neighboring country Canada, has a similar culture to ours. It is not so strange or different as some other countries. Still, when I visit there, I cannot expect to claim the exact same privileges that a Canadian citizen would claim. The same could be said of Australia, where my wife and I visited in the nineties. Other than their wonderful accents, and the fact that they drive on the opposite side of the road, we felt quite comfortable there.
Another country we have visited is India. Now I can tell you that it is a different world! The culture is very different in some ways. The food is different, the language of course is different, the money is very different. All the things we take for granted every day can become challenges when in another culture. While Canadian money is in dollars close to ours, Indian rupees do not easily translate to US dollars. Back then I would often hesitate when thinking of spending 1,000 Rupees until I did the math. That sum today amounts to only about $14 US dollars!
Some people possess dual citizenship. In one sense, a follower of Christ also possesses dual citizenship, living in two worlds. We live on this earth, and because of our love for Jesus Christ, we serve the inhabitants of this world for whom He gave His life. However our service will be more effective and powerful when we fully understand how our primary citizenship is in Christ, and in His Kingdom! This might not be as easy as it sounds. I was born into this world first as an earth-bound creature. Over time I developed this internal sense that something was not quite right, or complete.
At an early age I began to hear about the Word of God, and the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. This ignited that internal sense with a spark within me that has continued to grow and burn brighter year after year. I live in a material world that was created by God for His glory, but that world has become filled with corruption, sin and death. I am reminded of this fact every day of my life.
The knowledge that I am more than a material being has created a hunger for heavenly, spiritual things. I am not only talking about the future bliss that all believers know is real. I am talking about a present reality! This heavenly reality is where we all belong, and it includes the abundant life that Jesus came to bring! How often we overlook this fact: the mission of Jesus was to bring heaven to us! Everything he taught was to turn our way of thinking around towards this heavenly reality!
When I surrendered my heart and life to Christ my old life died and was buried with Him in baptism, in order that I can rise with Him from the grave as a new person! I have been translated from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son of God! (Romans 6:4, Colossians 1:13)
The central message of Jesus was for us to “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near!” Certainly we all have sins for which we must repent, but we could legitimately take repentance even further. The original Greek word in the scripture means “to think differently.” The source of our sin is in our attitudes and patterns of thinking about ourselves and God. Paul the apostle once stated that repentance goes further than sorrow for sin, which is good. Godly sorrow leads to repentance, or a change of mind. (1 Corinthians 7:10)
The bible has much to say about our minds and habits of thinking. Unfortunately, many of us do n