In Yellowstone National Park, volunteers at gift shops, information centers, and attractions wear tags bearing not only their names, but also their home states. Larry from Idaho sells you a sandwich, Alice from Florida leads your geology walk, and Evelyn from North Carolina welcomes you to a museum.
And ever since reading the apostle Paul’s “Above all” admonition in Philippians 1, I’ve been thinking about the children of God putting on their name tags every morning.
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. (Philippians 1:27a NLT)
These words bear the key messages of the New Testament:
The Good News is that you are now a citizen of heaven, part of the family of God.
Your life is far more than the years you spend on this earth. This world is not your home.
But while you are here, as a citizen of heaven and part of the family of God, live in such a way that you represent well your family and its Good News.
As soon as Jesus began teaching on earth, He made it clear that the Kingdom of Heaven is something we are a part of now. He is also preparing a place for us to be with Him; Christians look forward to that hope. But today we are already part of His Kingdom; and in everything we do right now, we’re to live as worthy citizens.
That means we need to know how the Kingdom operates. If you’re a citizen of the U.S. or Canada or France or India, you must live according to that country’s laws. You learn and live by the mores of your society, its economical structure, and even its history. Just so in the Kingdom of God. Jesus set the standards for conduct in His Kingdom, and life here operates differently than in the kingdoms of the world. Citizenship here is open to anyone who chooses it, but He asks us to live–now— according to His standards.
This also means that we are now living in a place (the U.S., Canada, France, India) that is not our ultimate home. Our old life is dead; now we live a new life in the Spirit given by Jesus. We live in a new dimension, beyond all the burdens and disappointments, joys and rewards, necessities and delights of our earthly plane. Our new life has, as its final goal, a home in God’s presence forever. Jesus was clear about that, too. He is preparing a place for us, a place where we will live with Him.
In the meantime,
Above all … live as citizens of heaven … in a manner worthy of the Good News…
How would it change my day if, every morning, I’d pin a name tag to my shirt, a simple card that says, “Elaine, Kingdom of Heaven” ? That is really what we do when we take the name Christian. I think I also need a leather bracelet with letters stamped into it: LACOH.
The “Above all” words have been a constant reminder of my citizenship and my desire to walk worthy.