|Messiah Lutheran Church||
6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
If you've ever lived in a foreign country, you probably experienced a bit of culture shock, as you had to eat different foods, deal with different customs and ways, communicate in a different language, and adjust to people who have a different set of values and an unfamiliar sense of humor.
As a result you may have found yourself often being misunderstood, having people point and stare at you, being laughed at, etc.- and never feeling like you're really "at home".
1st Peter 2:11 reminds us that as citizens of heaven, we are to live as foreigners and exiles in this world. Ah, but the advantages of being a citizen of heaven far outweigh any temporary disadvantages from not being a citizen of this sinful world.
For not only do you have the assurance of being forgiven of all your sins through Christ's shed blood on the cross and therefore being at perfect peace with the One who is in charge of every thing - along with the comfort of answered prayer, the power of the Holly Spirit, and all the promises of God's Word to claim as yours, Yes and Amen in Jesus Christ ---.
In the end, you have the indescribable riches of heaven waiting for you. For this life is oh, so short compared to eternity. And so 1 Corinthians 15: 19 says, "If only in this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied".
However, the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh would have you forget where your true citizen ship lies. They would have you conform to the sinful patterns of this world -- and lose your distinctness as a citizen of heaven, and to lose your saltiness, and ultimately, if it were possible, to forsake your citizenship of heaven altogether by exchanging your birth right as an heir of heaven and eternal life for the "mess" of this world.
And, so Jesus warns us that we are not to be so overly concerned with what others think of us. If this world treats us well, great! But, if this world treats us like the devil and even threatens our lives. So, what? For ultimately, we are not to fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather we are to fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
For, "What good will it do to win the whole world, and lose your soul? Or what would you give to buy back your soul?" (Matthew 16:26)
While it is true that God does have a wonderful plan for your life, it doesn't necessarily mean that you will always be liked or that that being a Christian means that you'll live a life free from suffering. For if people hated Jesus it shouldn't surprise you that people will hate this same Jesus living inside of you! But when you keep in mind that God's wonderful plan for your life includes an afterlife of an eternity in heaven, than any earthly discomfort pales in comparison.
And even though you've never been there, yet - it shouldn't surprise you to find yourself feeling a little home-sick for your heavenly home, finding yourself more and more disgusted by the sinful ways of this world, and taking more and more delight in the ways of God.
Rejoicing when it's time to attend the Divine Worship service and singing praises to God, along with hearing His Words of life proclaimed through which you are reminding you of your eternal home -- looking forward to gathering at the altar to partake of Holy Communion along with angels, and archangels and all the company of heaven -- enjoying the company of fellow citizens of heaven such as the ones gathered at Messiah, as you share a common bond in being fellow strangers trying to make it in this foreign land of earth -- and counting down the days until at last you finally arrive to your heavenly home.
Like Lot in Sodom, you can find yourself vexed with all the sin that surrounds youas you find yourself less and less at home in this world and more and more at home in heaven - but, Jesus reminds you that in the midst of all your earthly vexations and sufferings, to look up for your redemption draws nigh!
And to keep in mind, like the suffering Saints described in Hebrews 11, that this world is not worthy of you! After all, Heaven is your home! The best is yet to come!
And so when Jesus says in the first part of Revelation 22:20, Surely, I come quickly - We eagerly respond by saying the last part of that same verse -- "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"
As we join in singing the words from the Hymn, "I'm but a Stranger Here" (LSB #748):
I'm but a stranger here, Heaven is my home;
Earth is a desert drear, Heaven is my home.
Danger and sorrow stand round me on every hand;
Heaven is my fatherland, Heaven is my home.
What though the tempest rage, Heaven is my home;
Short is my pilgrimage, Heaven is my home;
And times wild wintry blast soon shall be over past;
I shall reach home at last, Heaven is my home.
Therefore I murmur not, Heaven is my home;
Whatever my earthly lot, Heaven is my home;
And I shall surely stand there at my Lord's right hand;
Heaven is my fatherland, Heaven is my home.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!
From a Fellow Citizen of Heaven,
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