Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Monday, March 11, 2019

Citizens of Heaven

Here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church we began our Lenten sermon series by looking at a passage from the book of Romans and had a message titled “Don't Miss It!” (which can be found here.) Our Scripture passage for this coming Sunday comes from Philippians 3:17 - 4:1.

In this passage the apostle Paul speaks about citizenship of heaven. He is concerned that in the world around him, many were acting as though the only thing that mattered in their lives was their self. He is scathing in his assessment. “Their god is their belly, their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.” Christian people were called to live to a different standard, one related to the teaching Jesus had given them. They were to demonstrate that they were citizens of heaven.

Citizenship of any nation carries with it various rights and corresponding responsibilities. According to the official website of the “Department of Homeland Security” American citizenship grants such rights as freedom of expression, freedom to worship as you wish, trial by jury and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” With these rights come corresponding responsibilities. These include to;
  • Support and defend the Constitution.
  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
  • Participate in the democratic process.
  • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
  • Participate in your local community.
  • Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
  • Serve on a jury when called upon.
  • Defend the country if the need should arise.
When a person becomes a member of a church they are given certain privileges. They have a right to worship. They are allowed to vote in meetings of their church. They are invited to be an active part of the decision making process in the congregations life. What should the corresponding responsibilities be? Maybe to;
  • Support and defend the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament
  • Stay informed of the issues affecting both your Church and the wider world.
  • Participate in the democratic process of your congregation and denomination.
  • Respect and obey the ethos of the Kingdom … as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount.
  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
  • Participate in your local community.
  • Be faithful in matters of prayer, personal spiritual growth, tithes and offerings.
  • Serve on a committee or board of your church when called upon.
  • Defend the integrity of your congregation by living as a faithful member, regular in attendance service and support.
Be a good citizen... both in your nation and in your faith community. I'm sure Paul would approve that message!

I had a challenging time finding a song to go with these thoughts. There are many, many songs about God's faithfulness towards us, but not so many about our faithfulness to God. One exception is the song “Find us Faithful” by Steve Green, which resonates with a number of verses in the Book of Philippians.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

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