Monday, September 14, 2009
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After terrorism on American soil became a reality, there was increased talk about students who are in the United States on temporary visas. Now, the vast majority are simply here to study in this country. I've traveled with one of those temporary visas in other countries, so I know a little bit about that. And it lets officials know that you're in their country for a specific and limited amount of time. And in my case, that's always been just fine. My passport is what tells you where my home really is. If I got knocked out and couldn't remember what country I'm from, my passport would save me. That temporary visa would only tell you where I'm visiting, not where I live.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Visa and Your Passport."
It makes no sense to build yourself this big empire in a place where you've only got a temporary visa. Sadly, many of God's people are making that very mistake, and neglecting to invest seriously in the place that's really home, where their spiritual passport is from.
Paul talks about our temporary visa and our permanent passport in Philippians 2:20-21, our word for today from the Word of God. He talks about many who "live as enemies of the cross of Christ...their mind is on earthly things." Since they cannot know that heaven is their eternal home, Paul is saying here that they live as if earth is all there is. Their passport says, "Earth." "But," Paul goes on, "our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" who, Paul says, has the power "to bring everything under His control."
Once you give yourself to Jesus Christ, God issues you a new passport. It says "Heaven." You can now call heaven your home forever. That's one of the amazing things about belonging to Jesus that you can actually know, right here and now, that you are going to heaven when you die. You don't have to wait 'til you die to find out where you're going because you have trusted Jesus Christ to forgive and remove the only thing that could keep you out of heaven - your sin. That's what He died for.
So now you have a temporary visa that says "Earth" and a passport that says "Heaven." So why are we so bound up in building this kingdom for ourselves in a place where we're just visiting? We are so entangled with earth-stuff that we neglect the things that will matter forever. In the Old Testament, when God wanted His people to focus on rebuilding His temple, they couldn't see the eternal for all the earth-stuff they were involved in. God said, "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin? My house remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house" (Haggai 1:4-9).
So here we are, citizens of eternity, mired in a place where we're only passing through. We're fascinated with what the pop culture says is exciting; we're accumulating as much earth-stuff, as many earth-toys as we can, we're plowing the best of our energies and our resources into building things that will only be important during our brief earth-visit. And meanwhile, we have relatively little left to invest in what will matter forever - building people's lives, getting the Good News about Jesus to as many people as possible, using what God has given us to take others home with us to heaven some day.
If you're a citizen of heaven living mostly for earth-stuff, you'll never be fulfilled; you'll always be restless because you're just visiting here. You're building the wrong kingdom. You're spending the best of yourself on things that have little or no value where you're going to live forever. Citizens of heaven can never be satisfied by things that will not last. This isn't home!
The old hymn was right, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through." Don't build your kingdom in a place where you're just visiting; remember your passport says "Heaven!"