Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Citizenship is a powerful concept. It means you belong, you have a homeland, a mother country that pulls your heart. There is an old expression that said, “You can take a boy out of the country, but you can never take the country out of the boy.” That is the idea we are talking about. We belong to Heaven—it is our country.
Our passage is written with the idea that the citizens are away from home. Their homeland was Heaven, but they weren’t there, at least, not yet. Being away from home, they longed for it. We see a similar idea in the Old Testament. When Judah was taken captive by Babylon, their hearts melted. They longed for the city of God. They were asked to sing some of their songs, but they couldn’t while they were in Babylon. They had a homesickness for Jerusalem. The early Christians lived as if one foot was in Heaven. They talked about it with fondness. They desired to be there. They had a homesickness for Heaven. Have you ever seen a kid who is homesick? Boy, I have. I’ve been a camp counselor before. Every summer there’d be two or three who were real homesick. They’d sit around on their bunks and not want to participate. They just wanted to go home. They sniffled and cried and begged us to let them call home. Once in a while the director would let one of them call. Bad news. As soon as the kid heard mamma’s voice on the phone it was all over, there was no turning him back now. He was going home. Usually mom had to come and pick the kid up before camp was over. Homesick.
This is not the only place we find these thoughts. Paul told the Corinthians, “for indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from Heaven” (2 Cor. 5:2). The “this house” is our bodies. The “clothing” he longed for was the spiritual life that comes after the resurrection. He longed for Heaven.
I often feel that brethren today just don’t have that desire burning in their hearts like the early disciples did. Sure we all want to go to Heaven, but within the same sentence and the same breath, we talk about sports, shopping and the economy. We are so saturated with THIS world that the NEXT world seems distant, removed and only a dream. It wasn’t for those early Christians. It is in Philippians where we find Paul saying, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He continued, “I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” Stay or go…Paul wanted to go. His citizenship was in Heaven. He belonged in Heaven.
Homesick for Heaven has a real impact upon us. First of all, many things that seem important really aren’t, when you think about going to Heaven. Who cares, I’m going to Heaven someday—that’s what matters. Next, the talk of Heaven starts finding its way into your conversations. You talk more and more about Heaven because you are thinking more and more about Heaven. We tend to talk about what’s on our mind. Thirdly, thinking about Heaven has a way of making us walk closer with God. We want to go to Heaven and we soon realize there are things we are doing that are getting in the way and some may even be wrong. So we adjust. We repent. We change. We stop doing those things. Nothing is worth missing Heaven, nothing.
Citizenship in Heaven—that concept ought to come out in our prayers, and our attitudes. Someone ought to be able to visit one of our worship services and leave thinking, “Boy, those people really want to go to Heaven.” Can your family sense that about you? How about the people you work with? Have you convinced yourself of that?
Homesick for Heaven…just want to go home!