Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is Philippians 3:20-21, where the Scripture says,   

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.



Citizenship, belonging to a country, nation, or empire, mattered in the ancient world and, truth be told, it matters today. Citizenship established an identity in an impersonal world. It meant protection; it meant rights; it meant privileges. In our text, Paul, while not denigrating the temporal citizenship that the Philippians had as Roman citizens, reminds them of the vast differences between being a citizen of a Rome and being a citizen of heaven by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ for all. To say it simply, one citizenship lasts, and all others eventually fade into the ashbin of history. Paul reminds them, and he reminds us, of the eternal differences between the temporary citizenship we have in the country of our birth and the one that lasts forever. The latter comes from our “rebirth” into the family of God by the work of the Holy Spirit (see John 3:3, 5). Paul reminds us all of the enduring identity that comes from being redeemed by Jesus Christ and reconciled to the God who created us for eternal life in the first place.

Citizenship. In the centuries surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus, the temporal nature of the great kingdoms of this world were revealed. Rome would fall, just like Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, and others did before. In fact, all human efforts to establish lasting citizenship, earthly peace, national security, and perfect justice will fail. That’s why the Bible’s message is so powerful. The life and salvation that Jesus offers are able to deliver what He promises. Paul reminds us that one day God will place all things into subjection under Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:27). As a result, Jesus has the power to bring everything that He has promised to fruition. There is even the promise that because He lives, because He is resurrected from the grave, our bodies will also be transformed to become what we were created and redeemed to be IN HIM. That’s powerful stuff!

The truth of that heavenly citizenship should give us pause. And it should give us a mindset about the things of today. Some say, “Christians are so heavenly minded, they are of no earthly good.” The opposite should be true. Believers know that our “ultimate” citizenship in heaven, and that gives us wisdom and strength to be a blessing to others right now. We are citizens of two kingdoms, one that lasts and one that is fading away. To that end, we need to prioritize things in our lives. We are to strive for excellence in the “here and now.” Our Lutheran Center here in Washington, D.C., aims to do just that! In fact, all of us are to strive for excellence in our vocations and duties in order to give God glory and to serve others in His Name! That’s the purpose of living boldly as citizens of His eternal Kingdom even amidst the challenges of living “here and now.”  Our culture ought to acknowledge God’s preserving work in our midst even as we offer the Good News of His saving work in Christ alone. In fact, we are privileged especially now to put our temporal liberties to work in service to sharing the eternal liberties of God in Christ for a world that needs them now more than ever.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, help us to sense the opportunity that we have to not only receive the ultimate citizenship that lasts, heaven itself, but to put the power of that citizenship in Your Kingdom to work in our service to others. And, through it all, may we always remember that our ultimate citizenship and allegiance are to You, the only One who gives us life here, now, and forever. AMEN.

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