Years ago we opened our home to a young man, Yasu, who was attending college at a nearby university. His dorm was closed for Christmas break, and while most of the other students were able to go home for the holiday, he was 6,000 miles away from his real home with nowhere to stay.
He was such a gift to us. We did our best to make him feel comfortable, but most likely we wore him out with our questions. We wanted to hear all about his family and his homeland. His deep love and passion was evident as he spoke of his father and as he described his country like a small paradise.
During our conversations, the tone of his voice would often trail off, with the longing to be home.
He seemed to catch himself and would say out loud, how the time spent now was important and would impact how he would live later.
I’ve thought of Yasu as I’ve considered the truths in today’s Scripture. At a young age he grasped something deep — he understood what Paul meant when he said this sacred truth:
“Our citizenship is in heaven.”
It’s fascinating that Paul is speaking to the Philippians about living in one location while having citizenship in another. It’s brilliant imagery. The city of Philippi was a colony, governed by Rome but located in what we would call Greece. Even though I’ve just stumbled onto this fact, the people Paul wrote the letter to would have grasped the picture he was creating with his words.
If a child was born in Phillippi, it was important for their names to be legally registered in Rome — to recognized as Roman citizens.
We, too, are people who live in one place and — if we’ve trusted in Jesus — have our true citizenship in another.
It wasn’t long after our time with Yasu that we heard our new friend had received a notice to return to his country. He sold the few things he had accumulated and said his goodbyes, glad he had lived here, but ready to returbn home.
I long to better grasp this reality and see my life here on earth from heaven’s point of view. It reminds me how I want to live this life well in light of the future hope I have in heaven.
Today: Read Philippians 3:17-21