Your understanding of heavenly citizenship will affect your overall perspective: how you see things in relation to life, relationships and ministry. How you “see” life will then determine your actions. Your actions will determine your results. Your results will determine the effectiveness of your life and ministry. You see, it all begins with your perspective. So it is important to have the correct perspective.
Having God’s Kingdom perspective and walking in obedience to Him are two primary keys to fruitfulness in life and ministry.
To better understand heavenly citizenship and how it shapes our worldview, let us look at the life of Saul/Paul (stop now and read Acts Chapters 8, 9, 22, 26; Galatians Chapters 1, 2). The Bible reveals how a total change of his worldview brought about a complete change of Paul’s life and actions.
SAUL/PAUL’S DRAMATIC WORLDVIEW CHANGE
Saul grew up in a very devout Jewish home. He was well instructed by his father and family in the Jewish customs and traditions. Saul went to Hebrew schools and was fully immersed in his Jewish culture.
When Saul became old enough, he joined a Jewish sect in Jerusalem known as the Pharisees. He excelled in all learning, and had great zeal for the forms and traditions of the Jews. As a matter of fact, the Jewish leaders saw so much promise in Saul as a leader that he was mentored by one of the great Rabbis of the day, Gamaliel.
Saul had been totally indoctrinated by his Jewish environment, so much so that he was blinded to any other way of thinking.
PATH OF DESTRUCTION
Jewish prophets had foretold that one day a Messiah would come to deliver the Jewish people from their oppression. There were those in Saul’s day who were saying that a man, Jesus Christ, was that very Messiah or Savior. This Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom of God based upon love, forgiveness and acceptance of all people – not only Jews but also Gentiles. Many of the Jews began to receive Jesus and His teachings, and were leaving the traditions of the Synagogue and being baptized into Christianity.
When Saul heard about Jesus and these followers that were threatening what he believed and valued, he became enraged and sought to hunt them down and destroy them. Saul persecuted them, and eventually volunteered to go to the city of Damascus for the purpose of arresting Christians and putting them in jail.
SAVED FROM HIMSELF
Saul’s trip on the road to Damascus was to become the turning point of his life. While traveling, Saul and his companions encountered a sudden light from Heaven. It was so bright and powerful that they fell to the ground. A voice that only Saul could hear spoke out from the light, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting Me?” Saul replied, “Who are you Lord?” The voice spoke again, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.”
At this very instant Saul had a personal revelation and knew beyond any doubt that what was happening was real. Suddenly, much of what he had known and believed throughout his life was now in doubt. The very One whom Saul had come to persecute would be the One who would save him from himself. Saul had received a personal revelation of Jesus Christ, and as a result Saul gave his life to follow this Savior, the Son of God.
A BLINDING WORLDVIEW
Like Saul, every person who believes on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior has had a type of “personal revelation”. They have had the light of the truth of Jesus Christ revealed to them (2Cor 4:3-6), though perhaps not as dramatically as Saul’s unique experience!
At salvation, our “spiritual blinders” are removed, and we can better see the truth of Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Scriptures (Eph 1:17-23). We also begin to see that, prior to our conversion, we did what we thought was right. But once the truth is revealed to us, we realize that much of what we thought was right was actually wrong!
There can be a great deal of difference between the actual truth, and what we once perceived as truth – a especially when the basis for what we thought was truth was the world and its blind philosophies. Our worldview was shaped one way before Christ; but it must be reshaped after we receive salvation through Christ.
The environment in which Saul grew up – his friends, teachers, culture, religion and even his family – contributed to a mind-set or worldview that prevented him from seeing the real truth. It took a personal revelation by God to begin to open the eyes of his understanding.
After Saul’s initial conversion (his name was then changed to Paul), it was many years before he finally began his ministry. It is likely that during those years, Paul took time to sort out his beliefs. In order to be an obedient Christ-follower, Paul had to reject the false beliefs and practices in his life. He also had to learn, fully embrace and live by the new-found truths taught by Jesus Christ.
ALIGNING WITH THE TRUTH
My prayer is that as you continue to study this teaching, you will recognize the truth from the Word of God. Then, take time to examine your life in light of the truth. If you have beliefs or practices that disagree with what is taught in the Bible, you must reject those things and replace them with the truth found in God’s Word.
Almost all of us, before coming to Christ, developed false ideas, beliefs, philosophies or practices. They may have had their roots in emotional, familial, cultural, traditional or religious associations. But now, as a Christian, your beliefs or practices must line up with the truth of Jesus Christ and the entirety of the Word of God.
As a Christ-follower, it should always be a priority to become more like Him (Matt 10:24, 25; 1Pet 2:21; 1John 2:6). So any belief or practice in your life that is not holy, that does not conform to the Word of God, or that is causing you to be less like Christ, should be rejected (Eph 4:1; 1John 3:2,3).
God has called you to His service in the ministry because He desires for you to be a leader in His Church, the Bride of Christ (John 15:16; 2Tim 1:8-12). He also intends for you to daily be transformed more and more into His image (Rom 8:29; 2Cor 3:18) and shaped for His purposes. As with Paul, God has provided everything you need to enable you to be effective. God sees your desire to be faithful to Him and to the ministry to which you are called. “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (1Tim 1:12).