3:17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.
3:18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears.
3:19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.
3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
3:21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.
4:1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
Paul is often emphasizing the importance of what it means to maintain Christ-likeness in our everyday walk. Here he is emphasizing the point to be “imitators”. To imitate something means to “copy, take or follow, model”.
I was sitting in church this past Sunday and our pastor shared a cute yet profound story of him and his kids. His daughter was reading a book to the family and it was all about what kids want to be when they grow up. On each page there was a list of future jobs that a child could choose from and at the end of each page the daughter would pause and ask her dad and brother what they wanted to be. The father began to notice that each time the dad would pick something his son would automatically follow suite and say “yeah, me too!” His son wanted to be like his dad in ever way.
Just like the son who looks up to his father and longs to follow his every move so should we when it comes to following our heavenly Father. The world should like us and see a major difference in our lives. They should see a difference in the way we talk, dress, respond to situations, the way we treat others and so on. That difference should be emulating Christ and cause for people to wonder at why it is we act and say what we do.
The end goal is as Paul states “our citizenship is in heaven”. What we do from now until that point is and should be centred on winning souls to Christ through our every day walk.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
As most people know, Paul wrote this letter from a prison cell. From that place of unpleasantness Paul set his eyes on heaven and not on his own circumstances. For he knew that whatever trial he was enduring in the present, it is nothing compared to the magnificent glory of God which awaits those who hold onto the gospel. If anyone understood suffering for the gospel it was Paul.
This is why Paul tells the church in Philippi that our citizenship is in heaven, not here on this earth. Our homecoming to the glory of God will be more amazing than anything we go through here in the earth. But for those who place their mind and heart on earthly things, their God is their stomach and their glory is their shame. Indeed, any glory we seek here on this earth will be our shame in the end.
Let us set our sights on the prize, on the goal, and on the Lord as we run this race. Do not let the pleasures or pressures of this world distract us from bringing God’s glory here on the earth until Jesus comes back or we go home.
[Featured image from joequatronejr.com]