Friday, September 21, 2007

I am a citizen of heaven

With all the political talk in the wake of next year's presidential race, it is easy to lose sight of our real loyalty. I am an American, true. My family has been in this country since well before the revolution. My forefather on my dad's side, Nahum Sanders, signed a pledge in 1778 to fight King George for North Carolina. My forefather on my mother's side, Patrick Henry, was at one time general of the army of Virginia in opposition to the crown and led a very successful raid on a British armory. As governor of Virginia and a friend to George Washington, Patrick sent once and again to the soldiers who wintered at Valley Forge. In fact, among his other statements, Patrick Henry is credited with the first public declaration, "I am an American." I am proud of my country.

When I was a boy, I asked my father about our nationality. Some of our ancestors came from Ireland, England, France, and Holland. Dad said, "Son, you're an American; and that's all you really need to know."

But as proud as I am of my country and its Christian roots, I am a citizen of heaven. Paul said in Philippians 3:20-21, "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." Citizenship in heaven is by far the most valuable possession I have. Nothing else compares.

In my lifetime, I've lived in twelve houses that I can remember. I bought my first house in Franklin some twelve years ago. Though it is a nice house, it is temporary. The place Christ has reserved for me (John 14:1-3; 1 Pet. 1:3-5), however, is eternal. Once granted, it is mine forever. Jesus is preparing it, and God is furnishing it. It will be more glorious and more lavish than anything I can imagine.

I have always treasured the promise of Ephesians 2:6-7. God "raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." My Father in heaven wants to lavish his love and grace on me in eternity. I can hardly imagine what all He has in store to bless me.

If heaven is my home, I need to think more about it (Col. 3:1-4). I need to let the values and the ways of God be far more influential on my thinking. If I am citizen of heaven, I need to live like one. If I am a person in God's household, I need to live like one of His family. I need to put away the offensive and live with love. My life ought to glorify God, not seek self-glorification or self-gratification.

There is no greater privilege than to have the right to be a citizen of heaven. I must not forget that.



Kathy said...

Great reminder! Thanks!

K. Rex Butts said...

I try and remind people to ask this question: Are we "American Christians" or "Christians living in America?" There is a difference and for reasons you pointed out, I prefer to be known as a Christian living in America. My allegiance is to Lord Jesus and anything that seeks to replace that allegiance must be kicked to the curb.