Philippians 3:17—4:1 (NRSV)
Verse 17Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. Verse 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Verse 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. Verse 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 21He 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.
Chapter 4Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
When the apostle Paul speaks of believers' heavenly "citizenship," his words call attention to the loyalties that direct our daily living. He refers not to a future longing as much as to the social group and political organization to which we belong now. This new belonging and accountability that we enjoy are defined by Christ; they correspond to his glorified body—a body raised from the dead yet still marked by the violence dished out by a frightened and self-serving humanity. Christ's body was and remains a conduit of divine mercy and care. The rights we claim, the obligations that guide us, and the political leanings we profess must therefore never manifest themselves in isolation from Christ. They, like we, must be made subject to him and his body, which calls all people to come together in him, so we might turn from selfishness and learn to serve one another.
God of self-giving love, expose the lies and idolatry that make us pledge our loyalties to the values and rulers of this greedy world. As you did in Jesus Christ, show us today what it means to press on and discover that you claim our whole selves. Amen.