Meditations for Troubled Times
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)
As Paul writes to the Philippians, this young church is being threatened by a group of people professing the truth faith but in deeds denying it. The most glaring display of their ungodliness, Paul says in Philippians 3:19 is that “their god is their belly,” and they have “minds set on earthly things.” With these descriptions of their attitudes and appetites, Paul is indicating that these enemies of the cross live for the pleasures of this world. Their joy is tied to indulgence, whether this be through food, drink, sex, money, possessions, or entertainment.
In other words, this world dominates their focus, and self-denial is nowhere on their radar. There are many today with the same problem. They profess to know God, but their pursuit of pleasure and ease betrays their true heart. They have little thought of God, and great thoughts of self-satisfaction. But this epidemic has been a threat to the indulgent lifestyle. Sport has vanished. Entertainment has been limited. Opportunities for worldly pleasure have been minimized. Plus, sickness and death have dominated the headlines. This disease has reminded many of the brevity and frailty of life. The question is, will the worldly see that there is more than this life under the curse?
For the true people of God, Covid-19 (and any other sickness or sorrow) should shout to our consciences that this world is not our home. Though we are citizens of a land filled with brokenness, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, has given us a new citizenship by his grace. He’s poured out his Spirit on us that we would be adopted children, and, as adopted children, we have the rights and privileges of heaven.
What are these rights and privileges? We have access to God through the blood of Christ. We have the first fruits of a new age; namely, the Holy Spirit already lives in us, transforming us from one degree of glory to another. We already experience a newness of life; therefore, we have new thoughts, new desires, and new habits. However, the newness we experience remains tarnished with a touch of the old. We’re still fighting sin. We’re still experiencing the ugliness of the curse bringing toil and pain. We’re still facing death.
But, in our conflict, Paul points us to an unseen reality. You may not have a passport evidencing your heavenly citizenship, but a chief privilege that you possess is the Holy Spirit of promise within your soul guaranteeing your future inheritance. Because you are a citizen of heaven, this world and its pleasures cannot satisfy you. You are waiting for something better.
The question for our consciences is: am I truly waiting for something better? Are my eyes looking, by faith, to the day when Jesus will come and rescue his people from a cursed world? Am I longing not merely for a return to normal activities in a corrupted existence? Am I longing for escape from all the corruption in this life? For, even when this virus no longer hounds our days, there will be another threat. Thus, we must look to our heavenly citizenship and live like the children of another world. We must set our minds above on eternal things and comfort our hearts with the coming fullness of redemption. May God help us to do so!