Posts Tagged ‘citizen of heaven’

We have no permanent place in this world. Though I hold a passport that declares me a citizen of New Zealand, the reality is that, as a Christian, my citizenship is in heaven. As the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us, “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Heb. 13:14)

A letter to Diognetus written at the end of the fourth century puts it this way:

Christians are indistinguishable from others by nationality, language or customs. There is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labour under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven.

Scripture likens our earthly life to a journey, urging us to keep our eyes fixed on heaven as our final goal. As Saint Augustine wrote: 

We are but travelers on a journey without as yet a fixed abode; we are on our way, not yet in our native land; we are in a state of longing, but not yet of enjoyment. But let us continue on our way, and continue without sloth or respite, so that we may ultimately arrive at our destination.

With no permanent citizenship in this world, we are pilgrims simply passing through en route to our true homeland. The word pilgrim comes from the Latin peregrinus, meaning stranger. This word has as its root per ager: one who goes through a field or across a frontier. In doing so, the traveler becomes a stranger, a pilgrim, leaving behind familiar territory, headed towards a new land

So this Christmas, may you remember that your home is heaven, and that the longing and ache in your soul is for a place that you belong, a new land, and a role in a much larger story.  May you remember that in this life you are a traveler. You are on a journey and just like you often faithfully sing at Christmas you really are a citizen of heaven above.

O come all ye faithful joyful and triumphant
Oh come ye O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold him born the King of angels;
O come let us adore him Christ the Lord.

Sing choirs of angels sing in exultation
Sing all ye citizens of heaven above;
Glory to God in the highest:
O come, let us adore him, Christ The Lord

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