But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20
I was simultaneously dreading and looking forward to my five hour flight to Phoenix. Dreading the cramped confinement of a plane with strangers, but looking forward to my trip out West sans children and spouse, I joined the herd of cattle of Southwest travelers waiting in corral C to board the plane. I had not been on a trip by myself since college. The alone time working was going to be a nice change of pace from the daily duties of motherhood. But in order to get there, I had to spend several hours sitting next to, and possibly engaging in conversation, with the stranger sitting next to me. The crowded plane and last boarding group left me with very few choices in seating.
I took one of the only seats left- a middle seat sandwiched between two men in their thirties one by the window and the other one folded up on the aisle. Within the confines of that cramped plane, I found myself engaged in a fascinating conversation with the young man by the window. Over the next five hours I listened to his story of coming to the United States in order to attend the University of Florida. He obtained a bachelor’s degree, while learning English, and is currently working for an energy company. He spoke about his family fleeing the drug cartel of Colombia, of becoming a US citizen and of his love for both of his countries.
As I listened to his story and heard the passion he felt for Colombia, while pledging his loyalty and gratefulness to the United States, I thought about how difficult it must be at times for those who have dual citizenship. If the two countries you are a citizen of are no longer friendly, which side do you take? My young friend said he would have to flee to a deserted island because he would not be able to choose sides because he loves them both.
Our verses today state that “our citizenship is in heaven and from IT we await a Savior…” (emphasis mine). Our citizenship is in heaven. We belong to it, not here. Did you catch it? We don’t belong here. We belong there. It is from heaven’s citizenship that we await our Savior. The world should not have our loyalty. Heaven should. Our first obligation is to heaven, not earth. My problem is that I make my citizenship about here, and not there. I make my life on earth my priority. I give my time, money, abilities, thoughts, priorities and dreams to this life that I can see and not to the one I cannot. We have divided loyalties and because of it we try and please both and we can’t. We can’t because the worlds we live in are at war with each other and we have to pick a side. We can’t be loyal to both. Matthew 6:24 says “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Our ties to this world are strong, but our citizenship is in heaven and because of that I am to be loyal to the things of heaven. My priorities should become aligned with those of heaven. My life should reflect the place of my citizenship. Becoming a citizen of a new place shifts your loyalty from one kingdom to another. My young friend is no longer a citizen of Colombia, he is a citizen of the United States, and as such, he is learning to be loyal to new country while letting go of the one of his birth.
What changes in loyalty to do you need to make today? What is one priority you can change that is more heavenly and less worldly? What is one thing you need to let go of in order to be a better citizen of heaven?
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.