Second Sunday in Lent “we are citizens of heaven. . .”
Scriptures: Philippians 3:17-4:1
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
4 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.
Reader: This is the word of the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God.
The Apostle Paul has touched on some very timely topics. Though written 2,000 plus years ago, Paul’s words ring as true as walking down the street last night or reading the news this morning. Whenever someone says the Bible is an irrelevant old book, they clearly have not read it. A few things to notice in this passage: Paul sheds tears for people whose lives are contrary to the way of Christ. In truth, I do not always have a heavy heart for those in rebellion against God. I am more inclined to be upset with their conduct and rejection of God than I am sorrowful for their alienation from God. Our pop culture as a whole certainly brags about “shameful things” and glorifies vile behavior. Depravity is celebrated, often in the name of diversity. It would appear that many people around us are consumed with present day life on this earth with little or no thought of any life after this world. It is likewise easy for followers of Christ to be singularly focused on the present. Once again we have the insightful words of C.S. Lewis: “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth thrown in: aim at Earth and you will get neither.” (The Joyful Christian) All around you and me are people aiming no higher than earth. Our calling is to let them know there is more than this earth at stake and to aim much higher. The earth they are chasing and never catching, will one day come into view as past history because they will discover they have actually been just “passing through.” People have asked me what our bodies will be like when we get to heaven. Paul gives us somewhat of a hint in this pericope. Our heavenly bodies will be transformed into glorious bodies like Jesus’ own resurrection body. Friends, let us live always preparing to leave while paying attention to each day. Stay true to the Lord and help those around you to aim at heaven. It has been secured on your behalf by our great Savior. He is the good news at the beginning and end of each day!
Music: “No Not One and This World Is Not My Home” Guy Penrod
“Alone Yet Not Alone” Sam Robson
You suffered throughout your life, O Lord Jesus Christ, that I might be saved. And yet, even now, you continue to bear with me, as I stumble upon the path and constantly go astray. As often as I become impatient and wish to abandon your way, you encourage me and stretch forth your helping hand. Each day I increase your burden; yet while I am impatient, your patience is infinite. Grant to me wisdom and a will to live each day noticing the day while living in eternity. In your grace, help me not separate the two but live a life of shalom through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
―Søren Kierkegaard, adapted Dan Sharp