Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.- Philippians 1:27 (NLT)
Usually this passage of scripture will say something to the effect of conducting ourselves in a worthy manner, however, I think the above translation makes it just a bit clearer. Though we may dwell in this world, we are not "citizens" of this world. We are "aliens".
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:10-12
As I pondered 1 Philippians 1:27, I learned that "politeuomai" means to live as a citizen (Strong's Concordance, 4176), in other words, live the life of a citizen. I also learned that though some versions use the word "urge", contrary to what we might think, Paul is not saying, "I think it would be a good idea if you were to do this and I'd like to encourage you to do so." The form of Politeuomai used in this instance is a present imperative second person plural verb which means it is a command (imperative) for all us (plural) that requires action (verb) and it requires us to do it not just now but to keep on doing it (present imperative).
Do our current actions reflect that we are a Citizen of Heaven or a Citizen of the World?
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/damian613/5077609023/
Hummm -I'm thinking - Since I am not yet perfected in Christ -does that mean I am not yet a "citizen" ?
Now I must go look into this matter.
[quote]Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:10-12 [/quote]
This is what Peter was addressing when he referred to us as "aliens" and "strangers". I know, I know. In our society, we tend to think of aliens as creatures from outer space, LOL! However, what "alien" really means is:
[quote]a : belonging or relating to another person, place, or thing : strange
b : relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government : foreign
The problem is two-fold. We are either "Citizens of Heaven" who if we are not careful, behave like "Citizens of the World" and we need to think about that and strive to live like a Citizen of Heaven or... we are "Citizens of the World" who are claiming to be "Citizens of the World" but it catches up with us and eventually we can't hide who we really are.
I have a feeling that a lot of people will not like that last part. Some might even get angry at that and say it is being judgmental but is it really?
I'm taking a good hard look at myself as well and indeed I think we all must. Are we being honest with God? Are we being honest with ourselves?
Self-examination or self-reflection is something which I believe is rarely mentioned in our churches today. Restitution is seldom mentioned as well, I'm afraid. Repentance has often been reduced simply raising your hand, saying a few words and walking out the door or shedding a couple of tears until you feel a bit better and you can go out with an "eased conscience" and do business as usual.
This has been on my heart more and more. It's time for us (myself included) to quit making excuses for sin. Yes, I am a work in progress and I am soooooooooooo thankful there is grace but at the same time I must face this question as must all of us. "Am I striving to live as a Citizen of Heaven, like a Child of God or am I living as a Child of the World?" I believe if we are honest, we would have to admit that at least some of the time, we are doing the latter. So what do we need to do about it?
One thing that comes to my mind in my own case is I need to reflect on this more at the beginning and the end of each day. I believe I need to be more proactive in asking God to help me live like His Child each morning and each evening, I need to take the time to do a "check-in" with Him.
Yup it sure helps to have a "Greek Scholar" around.
And "yes" it is a question we should ask ourselves daily - just to keep that "flesh" in line.