Last week we began a new blog series entitled “How to Live as a Citizen of Another Kingdom”. Below is the link to part one in case you missed it.
In the first blog we considered what it meant for Christians to serve as citizens, ambassadors, and soldiers of the Kingdom of God. These roles are far superior and weightier than service to an earthly kingdom because of their eternal consequences. The Lord’s commands to serve Him solely in these roles are found throughout the Old and New Testaments. The question we want to consider this week is – does the Lord give instruction that helps us to fulfill these roles?
God promises eternal life to the one who trusts Christ and serves Him. In fact, that term “eternal life” occurs 44-times in the New Testament. Eternal life was a main theme of Jesus who repeatedly called his followers to think in terms of eternity. The apostles reinforced the concept of possessing an eternal perspective as a necessary means to accomplishing our earthly mission. They knew that without an eternal view, they would fall short. Here are two passages from Paul’s letters sent to two different churches that highlights the importance of having an eternal view.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Col 3:1-4 – Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
Notice the weightiness of the instruction in the 2 Corinthians passage – “though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (vs 16), and the Colossians passage – “for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (vs 3). Paul tells us that once we became a Christian, our entire life has changed and continues to change. A transformation occurs inside that causes us to let go of the earthly and fleshly, so that something new that is hidden in Jesus can shine through.
Notice how this is accomplished – as we set our minds and look to things that are above and unseen, rather than on things that are on the earth and seen. Do you notice the intentionality of shifting our gaze? We are commanded to no longer look at what is happening on the earth, which is transient or temporary, but raise our eyes and thoughts to Heaven. And the benefit of adopting or pursuing this eternal view is that “so we do not lose heart (vs 16)” and “then you also will be revealed with Him in glory (vs 4)”.
Let’s be even more specific, the way we become most effective in being a citizen, ambassador, and soldier of the Kingdom of God is to see things in the way God sees them, from a spiritual and eternal perspective. As believers, our everlasting God has given us the ability to share His view of the world from his high and lofty place (Isaiah 57:15). Through study of His Word, we learn the superior blessings of our new identity in Christ, what it means to be a beloved citizen in His Kingdom, and how best to represent Him in the low places of the earth. Here’s how we benefit from possessing an eternal perspective.
- It reorients our focus.
By focusing on things that are above and unseen, we learn to take a longer, holistic view of the world and God’s plan for it. The Bible has much to say about the repetitive failures of human history as the result of pervasive sin. But it also has much to say about our sovereign God, His redemptive story of creation through his Son, Jesus Christ, and the perfect restoration of all things once they are brought under His Lordship (Eph 1:20-23). We are to reorient our focus onto the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:10 – 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
By studying “the deep things of God” (1 Cor 2:10) our minds are no longer consumed by the turmoil of this chaotic, sin-filled world. Rather, we are encouraged as we marvel at things the eye has never seen, the ear has never heard, and the heart cannot imagine, that Lord has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor 2:9). By possessing an eternal view helps us to reorient our focus.
- It transforms our hearts and minds.
Once the focus of our thoughts is reoriented, the Holy Spirit performs a deep work in our hearts and minds. 1 Corinthians 2:11-13 tells us that no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. And yet, as a follower of Jesus, we have been given the Spirit of God who teaches us, so that we might understand what God is doing in the world and share spiritual truths with others as encouragement. This new understanding is what transforms us and sets us apart from the unbelieving world (1 Cor 2:14). By possessing an eternal view, our hearts and minds are supernaturally transformed by the Holy Spirit.
- It prepares us for glory.
In the process of being taught by the Holy Spirit the deep things of God, we are being prepared for life in the coming Kingdom of God. As our hearts and minds become less in tune with this present world, we are becoming more in tune with the glory that awaits us. Jesus said that he was preparing a place for us (John 14:3) which Paul describes as far surpassing this present world (Rom 8:18). By possessing an eternal view, we are taking hold of the eternal life that we already possess. While our bodies may still die (unless Jesus returns), our hearts and minds will continue into eternity.
What great encouragement that is! But here’s the point… while possessing an eternal view transforms and prepares us for Heaven, it is also extremely beneficial to living a successful life on earth as a citizen, ambassador, and soldier in the Kingdom of God. By looking at things that are above and unseen (as taught by the Holy Spirit), it broadens and reshapes how we view things on the earth in every way (history, people, politics, economics, science, etc). We can put things in the right perspective by seeing them through the lens of scripture. We are being taught to see them the way God sees them, and how they fit into His sovereign plan.
As a result, our confidence in God soars as our faith in Him is increased. We are equipped to handle every change and circumstance that occurs on earth, no matter how radical or threatening it seems. We can navigate and engage the world around us without fear or instability. And we can do it while filled with peace, hope, and joy because we possess an eternal view.