I was listening to Gordon Fee this morning. He was talking about Philippians 3:20 that says, ” But our citizenship is in heaven.” Understanding this statement requires a little understanding of the city of Philippi.
Philippi was a colony of Rome. That means citizens of Philippi were first and foremost citizens of Rome, even though it was over 600 miles away. So, if you or I lived in the Macedonia area and wanted to know what distant Rome looked like, we could look at Philippi. Philippi was a representation of Rome in Macedonia.
In Philippians 3:20, Paul is saying that the Church is a colony of heaven on earth. Our home and true citizenship is in heaven even though we are currently living on earth. Fee states that if people want to ultimately know what heaven looks like, they need to be able to look at us and watch the way we live the life of God now — not as individual Christians, but in how we live in community with each other. Watching us embody the Good News of God’s life and love in intimate community is how people are convinced to abandon their current self-centered and selfish lives and embrace the new life of God, which is a communal life.
Now couple this with the Compline Prayer that’s posted this week on our website. It says, “O Lord, draw us ever nearer to your heart and so close that we might ever hear the hearts of all those who we journey with. Ever feeling their joy as our own; their peace as our own, their pains as our own; their struggles as our own.”
This is one of the keys to being a missional community. We’re missional as we embody the love and life of God as a community with one another, not just as individuals. As we do this we embody the Good News of God as a sign and foretaste of what “distant” heaven is going to be like. We live heaven on earth now.