Be Still Know
Philippians 1.27 NLT
‘Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.’
The residents of Philippi were very proud of their city which was a Roman Colony. They had been rewarded by the Emperor Octavian after his defeat of Antony and Cleopatra. The city was in Macedonia and is now part of northern Greece, but the Philippians enjoyed all the same privileges as if they were living in Italy. Citizenship was a big issue for them and they were delighted to enjoy the legal and tax advantages which came with their status. But Paul tells them that far more significant than this was the fact that they were citizens of heaven. Being a Philippian was a temporary arrangement unlike their eternal citizenship of heaven.
Paul was not saying that it was unimportant that they were Roman citizens. He had much to say about the importance of Christians living as responsible members of their community. In his letter to the church in Rome, at the heart of the empire, he wrote that those who followed Christ had a responsibility to submit to the governing authorities because they had been established by God. (Romans 13.1) Christians should do everything in their power to support their communities and to live as responsible citizens, but they would do so with the knowledge that their principal identity was their heavenly one.
There were many pressures upon the church in Philippi. Although Paul’s letter is particularly positive it is clear that there were plenty of challenges, both from people outside the church and from those inside the fellowship who were squabbling with one another. Paul knew that they must live by the highest standards and so he urged them to live a life that was worthy of the Good News about Christ. The church wasn’t their little private club, but a group of people drawn together by the Spirit to proclaim the amazing news of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever our churches might be facing at present we all need to hear the same challenge to live a life that is worthy of Christ.
QUESTION: What does it mean to you to be a citizen of heaven?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for the eternal security that we have in knowing you and help us to contribute positively to our temporary homes here on earth. Amen
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