Earthly CitizenshipIn the Apostle’ Letter to the Philippians, (the paragraph of Chapter 3:17-21) Paul presents the idea of the future has been that he is a citizen of heaven and is conducting himself daily as one who belongs to that better country. But, while advancing to the statement of this celestial citizenship, he pauses parenthetically over the state of those whose homeland is of the earth and earthly. The contrast in this paragraph is between the earthly citizenship of the world and the celestial citizens of heaven. The distinctive difference of these citizenships can be viewed as pearls for us who seek of wisdom or insight in this portion of Holy Scripture. So, in this post let us take a deep look at the citizens of the world. The Citizens of the World (Verses. 18-19) Here we have several things to notice. ● A citizen of the world can be defined as a heathen or pagan which denotes “an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible”. (Merriam-Webster) In heathenism the aim of life is for the most part to adore and gratify the flesh. Appetite is master. The mind and heart are simply the slaves of craving. Now as a worshipper, the heathen can never rise above the object of adoration. The man who worships appetite sinks into a mere quivering mass of appetite. Lust calls for satisfaction. Eating, drinking, and the gratification of the fleshly lusts become the total of life. A consequence of this devotion is the degradation of the earthly man to, or even below, the level of the wild animal. ● Their glory is in their shame. Instead of being ashamed of their lustful courses, they glory in them. They parade their degradations. It is a terrible descent when men lose the sense of shame and brazenly manifests their state of depravity. ● Their mind is wholly centered on earthly things. That is, they look no further for their rest. They settle down in this plague-stricken land. They allow their notions to be bounded only by the horizon of the seen and the temporal. They take no broader view than this life affords them. ● They are consequently enemies of Christ's cross which is the great foe of worldly mindedness. The cross of Christ opposes the adoration of the appetites; it opposes self-indulgence in every sinful form; and consequently, the citizens of this spiritual darkness are its adversary. Having gained some wisdom or insight about the earthly citizens of this world, we will in the next post, discover a few spiritual pearls that pertain to celestial citizens of heaven. As always, all readers of the blog section of this web site are cordially invited to make comments on each post. Clay
What Does it Mean ?Question: What does it mean to “Become a citizen of the Spurs Nation”? (See earlier posts on this subject) Answer: There are many ways to answer this question concerning earthly citizenships. May I suggest that it means that an individual is somehow dissatisfied with his/her boring interests and keenly desires an affiliation with a community of animated Spur fans. Question: "What does it mean that our citizenship is in heaven?" Answer: A celestial citizen legally inhabits a place beyond time and circumstances as well as limits and boundaries of an earthly domain. This answer is brief and biblically based but does not give justice to the deeper meanings of a heavenly citizenship. To do so, lets begin by looking at the New Testament book of Philippians. In the letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul states that “our citizenship is in heaven,” (Philippians 3:20). Of course, to better understand this five-word phrase, we need to place it in the context of the whole chapter or, at a minimum, verses 17-21. “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. (17) For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, (18) whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.(19) For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; (20) 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. (21)” At the time of Paul’s writings, the Jewish aristocracy and teachers had no locale or city but what was on earth; no rights but what was derived from their secular connections; no society but what was made up of men like themselves whose minds were focused only on earthly things, and whose appetites were their god. This same description could be made of the citizenry of non-Hebrew Gentile nations living in the 1st century as well as 21st century non-Christians.
Spiritual PearlsThere is a wealth of spiritual pearls to be found in Philippians 3:17-21. In the physical realm, pearls usually symbolize something of great value, such as purity, wealth, generosity and integrity. If you describe something that someone has said or written as a spiritual pearl, you mean that it is divine in nature and sounds very wise and helpful. The parable of the pearl is one of the great stories of Jesus. It illustrates the great value of the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 13:45-46) In the unseen realm, the spiritual meaning of pearls varies depending on Judeo-Christian perspectives. Later, we’ll look at a few spiritual gems as they pertain to this portion of Scripture and to practical truths applicable to our own spiritual journeys. Please stay tuned.