How To Live As A Citizen Of Heaven While On Earth
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- Format: Folded Tract
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- Pages: 8
- Version: NLT
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The full text of this tract is shown below in the NLT version. (Do you want to print this tract in a different version than the one listed? Contact us and let us know what you're looking for—we may be able to create the alternate version for you at no charge.)
Physicists from Stanford and the University of California Santa Barbara are trying to put one object in two places at the same time. This is called “quantum entanglement” and consists of heating and cooling a tiny piece of matter to extreme levels and measuring it to see if it can be detected in multiple locations. Einstein theorized it might be possible, and these researchers believe they can do it.
While this might sound like the stuff of science fiction, Christians have been in two places at once for more than two thousand years. How is this possible?
Christians alive on Earth are citizens of Heaven (spiritually) and are living on Earth (physically). Paul tells us that even though our bodies are on earth, “we are citizens of Heaven” (Philippians 3:20). We are in two places at once.
But how do we live as citizens of both Heaven and Earth? In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he tells them, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” (Philippians 1:27). I love that Paul almost always tells us how to do what he wants us to do. In Philippians, he gives us four ways that we need to live as citizens of Heaven while on Earth. The first one we don’t expect to experience as Christians: struggles.
LIVE BOLDLY THROUGH STRUGGLE
Paul writes, “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him” (Philippians 1:29). In one of his commentaries on the Bible, Warren Wiersbe writes, “For some reason, many new believers have the idea that trusting Christ means the end of their battles. In reality, it means the beginning of new battles.” One of those new battles is suffering.
The suffering statement is explained in light of Paul’s life, “We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it” (Philippians 1:30, emphasis added). As Paul writes here to the Philippians, he was under “house-arrest” in Rome waiting for his trial before Emperor Nero (see Philippians 1:7, 13-14; Acts 28:30-31). Under house-arrest, Paul was chained to a wall and a Roman soldier. He couldn’t go anywhere nor could he provide for himself. Life was a struggle for him during the two years in which he wrote this letter to the Philippians.
We live as citizens of Heaven by living boldly through struggles together. While struggles focus on us and what we experience, the next way to live as citizens of Heaven focuses on others.
How many problems would disappear if people loved each other? The second way that we live as citizens of Heaven is to love others. Paul writes, “Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another” (Philippians 2:2). How many broken relationships could be reconciled, families restored, workplaces made supportive and friendships made stronger where selfless love was actually the norm?
Paul continues on, “Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). One thing about loving others is that it reminds us to not think only of ourselves. It takes the focus from us so we can contribute to a just and compassionate environment by thinking of others. That’s humility.
Paul explains, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:4). In college, I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate. I couldn’t help but hear the arguments between my roommate and his girlfriend. She would storm out of our apartment mad. When he emerged from his room, he’d say, “Christopher, she wants something. But I’m not gonna do it, you know why? Because you have to look out for #1. I’ve got to do what’s best for me.” That relationship didn’t last long.
As Christians, we too have to look out for #1. But as Christians, #1 is not ourselves. As Christians we must learn to sacrifice ourselves for others just like Jesus did.
SACRIFICE YOURSELF FOR OTHERS
Next, Paul says that we “must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (Philippians 2:5). He explains that Christ “gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave” (Philippians 2:7). Jesus was fully God and fully man, but He didn’t cling to His divine privileges.
He didn’t use His position as God to escape death. In this way, Jesus “humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). He was giving up His divine privilege as God. He didn’t have to die. But He was sacrificing Himself for others in a physically painful and emotionally humiliating death.
When we mention the word “sacrifice,” we think of excruciating physical pain, but humbling ourselves for the benefit of others isn’t often that severe. For example, someone might verbally attack us in anger, but we choose to not fight back. For the sake of avoiding a conflict, we might let another person think he or she is right when we know he or she is wrong. These are small sacrifices that we can do for others.
A word of caution is needed. Under no circumstances should we submit to people that abuse us verbally or harm us physically. And if a controlling person says, “You need to submit to me because the Bible says so” it is clear that person is not following Christ’s model of love as we already discussed earlier.
SHINE BRIGHTLY FOR CHRIST
Paul gives a fourth way we live as citizens of Heaven, saying, “Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (Philippians 2:15). I love that. Live clean and innocent lives!
Even in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was supposed to stand out and look different than the nations around them. God had told the nation of Israel, “You will be My kingdom of priests, My holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). As John says, we are “children of the light” (John 12:36), and we need to show that light.
One way to live clean and innocent lives is to “Do everything without complaining and arguing” (Philippians 2:14). This will set you apart from the rest of the world. Whether a child at home doing his chores, a member of a church serving or a professional working a job, if you are a person who does their work with a positive and friendly spirit, you will look different than everyone else.
To shine brightly in this dark world is tough. Thankfully, God helps us. Paul writes, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” (Philippians 2:13). As a Christian, God gives you the “desire” to do what He wants. But He knows it’s difficult. So, He gives you the “power” to accomplish it. This is because it is “God who does the work in all of us” (1 Corinthians 12:6).
What a privilege it is to be a citizen of Heaven, but also a challenge to still be on Earth. We must suffer together, serve others, sacrifice for others and shine brightly for God. I’m grateful Paul tells us how to be in two places at once.
Are you a citizen of heaven? The Bible tells us, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Accept this free gift of God and enter the citizenship of heaven today. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).