Citizens of Heaven – Becoming Like Him
Today we are going to finish off what we started last week; we were looking at Philippians 3:20-21 (if you could turn there); last week we established that you and I who believe in Jesus Christ are Citizens of the heavenly Kingdom.
In this we are charged with bringing about the rule of God in the lives of people; we excitedly expand the civilization of Heaven as we await our King’s return. This week I wish to continue from there and talk about the power of this transformation in the lives of the citizens of heaven.
Transformation is a funny word in Christian circles because it is so difficult to nail down; what cause transformation in the life of the believer?
What makes us want to change?
We have all been through it when there is something about us that desperately needs changing or fixing and no matter what we put in our lives we inevitably end up living as we have always lived.
Generally this happens around New Years where we make plans to be a new person and make resolutions that generally last until about the 3rd of January.
Most of us fake change; pretending to have it together; pretending to be more than we are.
We can pretend for only so long that we have it all together and that we are good; but eventually it becomes clear we are broken and that brokenness is sin and that sin is rooted in the very core of our being.
I am sure I am not the only one who has cried out who will free me from this body of death (as Paul cries out in Rom 7). Sooner or later we all discover that we are flawed in the deepest of ways.
But there is hope! It is radical; but if we allow the love of God to encompass us and his grace to deal with us; we find salvation and freedom for the nature that is destined to betray us.
You see as many of us know here becoming a Christian is not simply a changing of one’s minds and belief; it is a radical re-shift of everything about you.
Jesus calls this being born again (or being born from above!)
You see the temptations is always to fall into a business type of agreement between yourself and God; LORD if I live up to my end of the bargin you live up to yours. In this type of thinking we fall into an endless living up to standards that we simply cannot live up to; because our very nature betrays us at every turn.
You know how it is; you want teenagers to do something make it off limits to them.
The main issue with this type of thinking is that it does not produce real change in the life of the believer.
We so often fall into this kind of thinking even as followers of Christ; because we fail to understand that our faith is about dependence!
It is dependence on God that creates within us the ability to live up to the standards of God. It is dependence that produces real change in our lives.
Paul reminds the church that the hope for transformation is not in our desires but in our dependence upon His power. Let’s read
“20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
Let me ask you as you read that passage do you get a sense of triumph? Paul is writing to encourage the church in a victory style declaration!
Jesus is coming and guess what; He is coming to rule absolutely! Now the thing is; to rule absolutely one needs to have the power and authority to rule.
Last week I alluded to that power a power that will stop people in what they are doing and command in them the response of humble submission to his authority.
We long for that day; where the full power of Christ is revealed to us!
We long for this day because it is there that we will see in in final reality:
His power transforms us!
What does Paul say will change our mortal bodies? The power that gives him the ability to subdue everything!
This is the same power that overcame the grave when Jesus rose and it is the same power at work within us.
It is the same power that will transform our bodies into perfect resurrection bodies.
This is one of the great hopes of the Christian; our bodies plagued with decay and that trip us up constantly on this journey will be made absolutely perfect.
It is such a great hope to me that one day the struggles that trap me will be forgotten with no chance of coming back.
But what really encourages me is that that same power that will free me once and for all in that day when I see Jesus face to face is the same power that is at work in me now!
Right now I have the power of God within me changing me into the image of His Son, slowing conforming my will to His; so that His desires are my desires!
This is why the Bible calls us new creations. We have been remade by God born from the Spirit and given a new life that gives us the ability to overcome and do more than we could have ever done in our own strength.
The power of the Christian does not come from their own talent; ability; self-control or will, it comes from a heart that is utterly surrendered and dependent upon the power of Christ in them.
God has been leading me to this reality more and more lately; it is God who is at work in us not us at work in us!
We are so tempted to make it about what I can do for God; if I read my Bible this much; if I prayer for this long; if I do the following I will be acceptable to God.
In this we have simply entered into a business contract to God; I will do something and as compensation God will accept me.
The problem with this kind of thinking is that is assumes that we have something to offer to God; which is simply not the case.
And this kind of thinking breaks the power that can change us; because it makes us dependant upon ourselves; and the key to real transformation is less dependence upon self and more dependence upon God.
You see we come to God with nothing, He needs nothing of us but out of unmeasurable love and grace extends a pardon for the rebellion that we have engaged in and the sin that we are trapped in.
Salvation is an act of dependence; Lord I know I am a sinner unable to help myself so I call on you to take my place and save me!
Salvation starts like this and it continues in this same dependence. Never in the Christian’s life does he find himself/herself independent of God.
We need the power of God to transform us, to renew us to work in us!
We long to make it about what we can do rather than being about a life of constant and desperate dependence upon God.
The power for this life and the power for transformation comes from a life lived in dependence upon God!
Let me ask you how much of your life is lived in dependence on the power of God in you; on the guiding of His Spirit; on the realisation that you need Him?
This is difficult because it takes a passionate pursuing of Him personally; it takes your time and effort to engage Him, and it takes your absolute trust to believe that He can do in you what He says he can do!
I am coming more and more into the realisation that I need God in my life more than I need to be a better person.
And in the abandonment of selfish self-improvement I have found God’s power is enough to conform me into the person he wants me to be.
When I give up on self and simply pursue Him that I discover a power to overcome things that were personal challenges I have struggled with for years.
It is a struggle to pursue God; because I want to make it about what I can put in over what I can learn of Him.
I can’t tell you how often I have to stop reading the Bible and recapture what I am reading because I am simply doing it to get to the end of the chapter and not because I wish to know God and his desire for me.
It is easier to pray Lord bless my day than Lord lead my day.
Because when I pray Lord bless my day it is easy to leave God there; but when I pray Lord lead my day I have to actively take God into my day and allow His thoughts to be my thoughts His prompting to be my promptings.
This takes me being aware of Him; dependent upon Him.
Greg I have to say is doing a fantastic series in the evening about this very truth (Walking with Jesus)
But it comes down to us pursuing Christ! That is what leads to real transformation; and it is the only hope because the goal of transformation is not a better you but a you more like Christ
We will be like Him!
Paul shares in the end of verse 21 that our bodies will be transformed to like his glorious body.
The hope of God for you life is not to be the best you you can be; but to be like his Son!
The best you is not good enough; Christ-likeness is what God wants of you!
Christ-likeness is only possible if we are pursuing Christ!
That is why personal transformation plans fall short of what God is doing in your life!
I read the gospels and see the person that Christ is and how He dealt with people how He spoke into deeply into peoples lives. I realise that I can never be like that in my own power.
But as I know Him; I am realising more and more I am becoming like Him; not perfectly but I am being conformed into who He is.
This only happens as I pursue Him with my whole heart!
And It is hear that my challenge to you this morning comes; stop trying to improve yourself for improvements sake; rather pursue Him who can transform your body by His great and glorious power!
encounter Christ! Live in the pursuit of He who has real power!
This is done by everyday making His will yours; by every day living in expectation of His guiding and leading!
You know it is easy to say read your bible everyday for 10min and you will grow; its easy to say but it wont produce the power for transformation that your lives need.
It is difficult to say look to Him; follow after Him; make Him your everything and I believe that by faith if you make Him your all in all He will transform you!
Personally this is difficult to live out because it requires dependence (the one thing our human nature bucks against) and Pastorally this is difficult because this requires me to actually let go and allow Jesus to be Jesus in your life!
Church I trust that Jesus is able to change you; to free you; to heal you, and so this morning I do what I am called to do which is lead you to Him!
Call on Him this morning confess if your pursuit of Him has been half-hearted. Start again and seek Him seek Him with your heart and soul and mind!
And today I am trusting (I am dependent upon Christ this morning) that He will do in you what only He can do; He will transform your mortal bodies to be like His!