- Lesson 11 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Pure Joy” focuses on Philippians 3:17-21.
We are to “live in the world,” and yet, not be “of the world.” Our true citizenship is in another world. Paul concluded in verse 20, “But our citizenship is in heaven.” In ancient Jewish society, the common view was that the term heaven (ouranos in Greek) existed in three realms or planes. The first heaven is what we consider the daytime sky or atmosphere (where the birds fly, clouds form, and the rains fall). The second heaven is what we consider the nighttime sky or universe (the planets, stars, sun and moon). The third heaven is considered beyond the first and second heavens and is the dwelling place of God (2 Corinthians 12:2). This is what Paul was referring to, here.
Our true citizenship is with God in his home. One’s citizenship is an identity of where that person calls “home.” If we are U.S. citizens, even when we are traveling abroad, we remain citizens of our homeland. Paul’s point was that even though we temporarily reside in this world, our true “home” is in heaven.
Therefore, we are sojourners passing through a foreign world. Like the Hebrews in Egypt, this is not our permanent home; we are headed toward the “promised land” of heaven. Paul emphasized that we await the Lord Jesus to come and save us from this world. When Jesus comes, he will unite God’s space with human space, consummating the kingdom of God in a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1-5). In this eternal union, sin and all of the effects of our failures will be removed (no more tears, death, pain). With all ungodliness removed, the Lord will reign as our God, and we will be his people forever. All things will be brought under God’s control, and he will transform our temporal bodies that wear out and decay into eternal bodies that are immortal and perfected (1 Corinthians 15:42-58).
Continue following Jesus
As Christ followers, we aim to walk in the manner of Christ. Jesus lived in the world, modeling the nature and values of God in the way he talked, served and loved others out of the overflow of his relationship with the Father. However, Jesus did not allow the enemy to draw him into being of the world or to mar his integrity and holiness. Instead, Jesus lived for another world— the kingdom of heaven.
Until Jesus returns to complete the coming of his kingdom, our role is to continue his mission. We are to “live in the world,” but strive to be distinctive “of the world.” We do so by living as Jesus did and investing our lives in the things of heaven—things that are eternal and not destroyed by moths or rust (Matthew 6:19-20). We live out the presence of Christ in the world, today. We embody Jesus to others. We pray, we yearn, and we become the people that bring God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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