Citizens Of Heaven
Every right-minded Christian will agree that he is going to heaven someday––that he will be a citizen of heaven in a day to come. Few however, appear to realize that they are citizens of heaven now. Yet this is precisely what the apostle Paul declares in his epistle to the Philippians: “For our commonwealth has its existence in [the] heavens, from which also we await the Lord Jesus Christ [as] Saviour (Phil. 3: 20). Our citizenship, or commonwealth, is in heaven.
Now if, as a Christian, you accept the fact that you are a citizen of another country, then it follows that you are not a citizen of this country. Nothing can be more definite that that if you belong to another country, then you do not belong to this one. Thus if heaven is our place, then the earth is not. You may say we are not in heaven yet, and I admit this, yet still it is our country and therefore this is not our country. I quite agree that we are subjects here, but subjects and citizens are quite different. We are subjects, but we are not citizens. We are bound to obey the powers that be, (Rom. 13: 1), but our citizenship is in heaven. I believe it is of immense importance to apprehend this fact, and I do not think any one can have any idea of the alteration it would effect in him, were he to realize it. Our being citizens of heaven has profound implications for our walk here.
Now the earth could not be your place, because Christ was rejected here. He is gone up out of this scene to His own country. This matter is of all importance to the soul that loves Christ. As soon as he learns of one that has loved him and given Himself for him, then he wishes to know where He is. Love desires His company, and thus when Mary Magdalene is asked why she is weeping, she replies “Because they have taken away my Lord , and I know not where they have laid him” ,(John 20: 13). Of course I do not doubt that most, if not all of my readers, being well–taught in the Scriptures, will have no difficulty in declaring where He is. That is not the point. It is one thing to know that Christ is in heaven, quite another to realize the practical ramifications of that truth. If an affectionate wife knew her husband had gone to Australia, and that she was to follow him there, then all her thoughts would be about Australia––it would colour her whole life. She would not go into a shop without thinking about the things that would suit Australia. The place would be before her because her husband was there. “Where thy treasure is, there will be also thy heart”, (Matt. 6: 21). He is not here––but is my heart where He is? It is clear that if your treasure is not heaven, then neither can your heart be there. You may speak of being a pilgrim and sojourner, when in reality you are not. If you were travelling back to England via France, you would not try to be a pilgrim and stranger in France, because you would be one. You are not at home, you are passing through.
Where is your home? Turn to John 14: “In my Father’s house there are many abodes; were it not so, I had told you: for I go to prepare you a place; and if I go and shall prepare you a place, I am coming again and shall receive you to myself, that where I am ye also may be” (John 14: 2, 3). Some commentators think He is now preparing it. No, your place was prepared when He went there. This corroborates what I have been saying as to citizenship: the earth could not be your place seeing that there is a place prepared for you in the Father’s house. When you realize that you have a place in heaven, it has the effect, though you have never been there, of drawing you to the Lord who has gone to that place; and if your heart were true to Him, no other place could fully please you. Your home is not on the earth––you have a home in the Father’s house.
Sadly, we have to admit how little we really enjoy our home. You may say, We are not at home yet. Yes, but we have home comforts despite being still here. They come to us by the Spirit of God, but they come from our home. The desire of the Father’s heart is that we should share the joys of His own house. You cannot know these joys unless you look for them in the place where they are. Perhaps you are looking for advantages on earth? The fact is that every advantage you obtain here, though it be a comfort for the moment, will be a cause of sorrow some day when it fades away. By contrast, the blessings which come from your home only add to your joy more and more. “If therefore ye have been raised with the Christ, seek the things [which are] above, where the Christ is, sitting at [the] right hand of God”, (Col. 3: 1). If He is there, how can I mind “the things [that are] on the earth”? (v2). His country is my country. Yes, I am in this world, the world in which My Lord was refused, but I am not downcast, because though He chooses to leave me here, my home is where He is. I am just a pilgrim passing through, a stranger and sojourner on this earth. The question is, Do I show clearly that I seek my country? (see Heb. 11: 14).