Live as a heavenly citizen!


I recently saw Philippians 1:27 cited in several blog posts — which of course got me thinking. The verse reads:

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ…

The phrase “let your conversation” is a translation of the Greek imperative πολιτευεσθε, which means to live as a citizen (from where we get our word politics). In our present day culture, the word “conversation” really doesn’t capture the original meaning appropriately. Consider my translation of the first part of the verse…

Only live as a citizen in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…

Is Paul talking about our conversations with others? Maybe indirectly. His focus, however, is actually much broader — our entire life should reflect the gospel of Christ. In other words, I should live as a citizen who represents the highest ethic of the kingdom, the gospel. A citizen of heaven should live a life that makes the gospel look as beautiful as it really is.

Philippi was a military colony — inhabited by many who had given their lives for the Roman empire. In exchange, many of these believers had received citizenship for themselves and their families — which meant they could own property, marry freely, and more. Consequently, this idea of citizenship was powerful in Philippi. In chapter 3, Paul says,

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ

The word “conversation” in this verse is again the Greek word πολιτευμα or citizenship. To the original recipients, can you imagine how strong this message was? Many had given their life’s work to the Roman empire — and now, as citizens of a heavenly kingdom, they await the King’s return.

We are citizens of the United States. Many of our family members have served this country militarily, often paying that ultimate price for our freedom. As a result, American Christians are very patriotic, myself included. But may we never forget the priority of the heavenly kingdom, reaffirming with ours lives our ultimate allegiance to the King of heaven.

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  1. #1 by michael on July 13, 2007 - 2:40 am

    good background; i think people drift away from citizenship being a lifestyle and isolate their holiness to worship in the temple/church.

    they’re free outside of those walls but somehow they are called to this reverence inside the walls that they do not pursue in their citizenship.

  2. #2 by clearly on July 13, 2007 - 6:39 am

    michael,

    I think that’s a disconnect that we all struggle with to some extent — that is, being the same person in our manner of life as we are when our church meets.

    It’s interesting that Paul finishes the verse, “that whether I come and see you or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel.” In other words, “whether I am there or not…”

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