It is important to remember that regardless of our earthly status, our ultimate home is in heaven.
We used to live next door to Juan and Maria. We became great friends and spent many hours together in conversation, often sharing a meal. Juan and Maria were immigrants to the United States. We introduced them to the unique features of our culture, which seemed strange to them, and they told us about customs and practices from their homeland. I especially enjoyed learning about their special holidays and the unique foods associated with those special days. They loved telling stories from childhood and sharing memories of those family holiday celebrations. Even though they live in the U.S. now, they hold a special place in their hearts for their homeland.
Their story is a window into the theme for this issue of Holiness Today. Paul said in Philippians 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Like Juan and Maria, we are residents of our respective countries, but our true citizenship is in heaven. We easily forget that reality as our attention throughout each day draws us to the latest headlines in the news, social media posts from friends, text messages, and phone calls. We can get so busy with the daily details of life that we forget our true identity.
We must take time each week to stop and remind ourselves of our place in God’s story.
The imagery of God’s instruction in Joshua 4:1-7 to the children of Israel as they miraculously crossed the Jordan River speaks to us today. A representative from each tribe selected a large stone from the dry river bottom and used it to create a monument to God’s faithfulness. I love God’s admonition, “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them . . .” (6-7). Tell them the story of God’s deliverance.
The seasons of the church calendar remind us weekly that our primary citizenship resides in heaven.
They give us opportunity to tell our children, new believers, visitors, and everyone who will listen the wonderful stories of God’s provision of salvation for humanity—of God’s faithfulness and deliverance. The varied seasons of the church calendar open a way for us to re-present Christ: to tell of His life, teachings, death, and resurrection. They offer us the privilege of inviting others to join the community of faith in representing Christ to our world.
Christians must always maintain a proper relationship between the land of their residence and the land of their true citizenship. We teach our children, new believers, and all who want to join us the culture and customs of the community of faith and, like Paul, focus attention on our citizenship. We further teach ways to adapt and live in the land of our residence, our secondary culture. The seasons of the church calendar offer weekly examples of how Christians live in this world while maintaining focused attention on our spiritual identity.
Juan and Maria taught me important lessons about maintaining perspective while living in a foreign land. Peter reminds us to never forget who we are in God’s eyes: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). We must use every season of the church year to declare God’s praises and reaffirm who we are as the people of God.
Frank M. Moore is editor in chief of Holiness Today.
Holiness Today, Nov/Dec 2018.