A few months ago, I decided to read the book of Philippians through a couple of times, and one theme stood out to me. Paul repeatedly reminds us that we are made for a different world, and urges us not to get stuck in the ways of this earthly one. This theme is especially clear in today’s passage.
So if we are really meant for a different home, how should we live? Paul draws a very compelling image for us.
First, Paul reminds us that since our citizenship is in heaven, we should live by different values. Earlier in his letter, Paul reminds us that we are not judged by human effort. Instead, our identity and value comes from Christ alone and what He has accomplished on the cross for us (3:3-9). Because of that, we no longer have to be weighed down by the past but can reach out for the things that are ahead of us—the goal of finishing our race on earth well and being united with Him one day (vv. 13-14).
Next, Paul tells us that our earthly bodies will be transformed to be like Jesus’ glorious one (v. 21). Currently our bodies suffer from sicknesses, aches, and injuries. But when we remember that Jesus overcame death, we have hope that one day, our bodies will be holy and no longer susceptible to the effects of sin (Philippians 3:18-19). Just as Jesus will overcome the evil and brokenness of this world, He will overcome the brokenness in our own lives as well.
How can we be confident of this? Paul says that the glorious transformation of our bodies will be done by the same power that Jesus will use to bring everything under His control (v. 21). While our current earth is filled with corruption and selfishness (Philippians 3:19), living with our true home in mind means that we don’t have to allow ourselves to be controlled by these values and desires, but can “stand firm in the Lord” (4:1), knowing that He gives us the desire and will to live in a way that’s holy and pleasing to Him (2:13).
This must have been comforting to the Philippians, who certainly knew what it was like to live in a fallen world. I must confess that it’s difficult for me to keep my focus on my true home all the time. Most evenings, I would come back after dinner and work on creative projects until midnight. Even though productivity can be a very good thing, it had begun to become an idol in my life—and I found my mind set on “earthly things” (3:19) instead of adopting a heavenly perspective in all that I do. So this Lent, I decided to replace work with more prayer.
Not having to hurriedly cram prayer between my projects has given me a whole new taste for patient, unhurried, “unproductive” prayer! And this type of prayer has impacted the way I live my life. While I used to be driven mostly by what I can accomplish, now I’m learning to dwell in His presence and allow His Word to speak to me and direct my life. It might be a small step, but I’m slowly beginning to live into the next kingdom.
If you, too, struggle to untangle yourself from the ways of our earthly home and set your eyes on our true home, I’d like to encourage you to hold on to the heavenly hope that Jesus has promised us. As we look to Him, He will help us redirect our gaze and live for our true home, one step at a time.
—By Ross Boone, USA
Questions for reflection
- Take some time to examine your life. Do your actions and behavior reveal that you are a citizen of heaven?
- How does Christ’s future reign encourage you to “stand firm in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1) and look to Him to transform your actions and behavior?
- In what ways can you live out your heavenly hope in your daily life?