By Scott Patty
Join in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and pay careful attention to those who live according to the example you have in us. For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.
So then, my dearly loved and longed for brothers and sisters, my joy and crown, in this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends.
One big temptation we face as Christians is to set our affection on earthly things and to forget about the things of heaven. We feel the tension of living in two worlds the moment we read about this temptation in Philippians 3. We are not yet in heaven; we live on this earth, so we must think about things we know to be temporary. How then can we not set our affections here?
Several times in the New Testament we are told not to set our mind on earthly things, but on heavenly things. The word mind is used to refer to something deeper than just a thought. It means our affection, our love, our primary concern. Certainly we give thought to the things of this world. In fact, I am giving thought to the meal I will eat after I finish writing this. We pay attention to our schedules, our bank accounts, and our relationships. But that is different from thinking of these things as being the lasting and ultimate end of our lives. We can eat, sleep, and make money without making a god of our bellies, beds, or bank accounts. We can attend to the things on earth without worshiping them (Phil. 3:19).
How can we do this? By knowing the truth of our true citizenship. We belong, first and foremost, to heaven, from where we await the return of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20). Because we belong to heaven first, we seek first the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). Since we have been raised up with Christ, we seek the things above, where he is. We set our affection on things that are above and not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:1–2).
Tension. That’s what we feel. But this tension must be felt if we are to know that we are living faithfully as citizens of heaven who are pilgrims on this earth.
As you live today, don’t try to resolve the tension. Let the tension be your reminder that you live here tending to your busyness with joy and faithfulness, but that you belong to heaven where your ultimate investment and hope lie. Let the knowledge of your heavenly citizenship prioritize what you give your life to and how you give it. Let the things of the kingdom of heaven impact the things you do on earth. Go be creative in your heavenly calling to glorify God in all things.