Christianity 201

October 27, 2014

Only Visiting This Planet

On Sunday our sermon had a “passport” theme. One of the central points was that we’re just visitors, or what the Bible calls “strangers and aliens.”

NLT Phil. 1:21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

27aAbove all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ…

NLT 1 Peter 2:10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
    now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
    now you have received God’s mercy.”

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

At one point in the message, the pastor reminded us that we go on vacation we recognize that our “moving in” to a motel or hotel room is at best a 6 or 7 day proposition. We’re not there to stay, we’re just using the room, it’s not our home.  As I let that allegory sink in, it occurred to me that the way to tell if you’re not staying is this:

You don’t rearrange the pictures on the wall.

You might move a table to let you work at your laptop in better light. You might change the chairs around to play a board game. But that’s about it. You have no sense of belonging there. You aren’t going to do any painting or change the carpet.

But so many times we let ourselves get absorbed in activities that basically amount to rearranging the pictures. We allow ourselves to fall into the mindset that this place we call Earth is permanent. We invest so much in this life, and I’m not just speaking financially.

The Reformation Study Bible speaks of these investments as “bodily” desires, or we could use the word physical equally, and notes that the desires of our fallen, sinful nature are always going to be perverted by our sin nature. There’s a reference to Galatians 5:

NIV Gal. 5:19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus certainly intended us to take a second look at even our concerns for what we would call the necessities of life in Matthew 6:

NIV Matt. 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Take a minute to re-read that last verse: “The pagans run after these things.” The IVP New Testament Commentary reminds us:

Some people today associate faith with being able to obtain possessions from God, but Jesus did not even associate it with seeking basic needs from God. Pagans seek those things, he warned (v. 32; compare 5:47; 6:7); we should seek instead God’s kingdom and his righteous will (6:33).

Verse 33 is familiar to everyone here, it references not worrying in light of God’s ability and promise to provide for those necessities.

However “this world is not my home.” A new passport was issued to you when you affirmed Christ’s divinity, His payment for your sin, and your desire to subject your life decisions to His best ways.

Don’t spend too much time and energy concerned about the paintings on the walls.

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