How to be a Heavenly Citizen

Roman citizenship was a very cherished item in the ancient world. Most everyone wanted to have access to and protection from the most powerful nation in the world. Many citizens of conquered nations enlisted in the Roman military for this specific purpose. If they survived their 20-year tour of duty, then they could retire as full Roman citizens. Many of these military veterans ended up settling in places on the frontier around cities like Philippi. 
 
Don’t underestimate the historical context when Paul wrote to the Philippians, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” For Christians, the victory was won by Christ on the cross. We survived. We finished our tour of duty and our citizenship is firmly in hand. We now await our savior, our commanding general, and our king to come and finish the only task left, the transformation of our lowly bodies to be like His.
 
Is this all though? Should we really be just sitting around waiting for Him to return, just biding time? I think there is more to being a heavenly citizen than this. Just as Roman citizenship carried with it certain duties, so also there are duties that go along with heavenly citizenship.
 
First, Heavenly citizens have a duty to not entangle themselves in the things of the world. Hebrews 11 tells the stories of some heavenly citizens that were known to be strangers and aliens in the world. They were weird people who did strange things. Abel offered a peculiar sacrifice that was acceptable to God. Noah, who was probably judged as off his rocker for expecting the flood, built an ark, survived the flood and saved the human race. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah wandered the earth like nomads never really finding a home here as they looked for a homeland that was out of this world. 
 
We should be a strange people as well, strange because we are strangers. Remember what Paul said to the Philippians? We are citizens of a kingdom that is out of this world, so that means that the citizens of this world should see us doing more than just making a living, raising a family, and living the American dream. Not that those things are bad, but we should be about more than that. They should see us doing strange things like going to church, telling others about our King Jesus, and living in a way that is peculiar to them.
 
Second, heavenly citizens should be active in the work of their kingdom. Many Christian philosophers would have us believe that we should live totally separated from the world in communes, convents, and monasteries. However, Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 that we are the salt and the light of the earth. Salt is made to give flavor. Light is made to shine. Both salt and light make an impact on the things that they touch.
 
As salt and light of the earth, we should preserve; we should shine. Just because we are strangers and exiles here does not mean that we should be unconcerned with the world. We should seek to make the world a better place. This is our duty as heavenly citizens and what good are we if our citizenship benefits only us?
 
Finally, as heavenly citizens we should share the good news. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 says that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. God has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation. Think about this. God did not choose to write the gospel in the skies. He chose to write it on our hearts. He didn’t choose to send angels. He chose to send us. 
 
What honor and glory has been bestowed upon us? Corinth, a city in Greece, regularly received ambassadors from Italy who brought the good news of victory from the farthest reaches of the Roman empire. These ambassadors were the most honorable and grittiest of Roman officials. We too, as ambassadors of Christ, are most honored, and we should seek to be the grittiest as we go about sharing the good news of our heavenly kingdom. Good citizens of heaven have a duty to ride out, set sail, run, and proclaim the news of Jesus victory over sin and death to all who inhabit this land.