“The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is a foreign place.” (Hugo of St. Victor)
To be civic-minded is good—we naturally love our native land. To be cosmopolitan is better—we should know and care about all nations. To be Christian is best—we’re “citizens of heaven” and “temporary residents and foreigners in this world” (Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 2:11 NLT).
Everybody else may be worried about earthly things; but we who follow Christ are not like everybody else, so we “let heaven fill our thoughts” (Colossians 3:2 TLB). We’re different, because our heart is Christ’s throne and heaven is our eternal home.
The idea that Christians can create a permanent home in this world is a mistake. The gospel song gets it right—“This world is not my home, I’m just passing through; my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me to heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” (Albert E. Brumley)
At the tomb on Easter morning, the angels asked Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?” And Jesus asked her the same question. Perhaps it’s still His question for us. Why is there still such anguish in the world? Why are we burdened so, living as though there has been no resurrection? Could it be that we’re so preoccupied with the mundane, that we think infrequently of the Messiah?
We’re wayfaring strangers in this world—listening hopefully for God’s future melody, dancing joyfully here and now by faith. Exactly what that future will look like is mysterious; but we rest assured believing that when Christ appears again, “we will be like him and see him as he is” (1 John 3:2 NLT). “God weeps with us so that we may someday laugh with him.” (Jurgen Moltmann)
At the end of the movie, Patton, the general, having commanded armies winning many battles, reflects inwardly about Roman generals returning from victory—greeted by a great procession lining the streets and cheering, vanquished troops marching in chains, strange animals brought from subjugated lands, musicians and singers celebrating his conquests, his children robed in white riding trace horses, and a slave riding with him in his chariot holding a crown for him and whispering in his ear, ”All glory is fleeting.” And so it is. The one exception is Christ’s glory awaiting us—not too good to last, an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
“When, by the gift of His infinite grace, I am accorded in heaven a place, Just to be there and to look on His face, Will through the ages be glory for me." (Charles H. Gabriel) “To dwell in that celestial land, where joys immortal flow” (John H. Stockton) will be ecstasy beyond any experience this side of heaven.
Politicians cannot fix social inequities. Philosophers cannot bring peace of mind to troubled souls. Doctors cannot find an antidote to death. Lawyers cannot legislate a preventative to crime. Warriors cannot establish lasting international peace. There’s only one hope for earth’s heartaches—the restoration of paradise by the returning, reigning Lord Jesus Christ. Heaven on earth is more than wishful thinking or a fairy tale—it is the promise of God that ultimately all will be well.
“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27 NLT)
Johnny R. Almond
Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity
Interim Pastor, Nomini Baptist Church; Montross, Virginia