I moved away from my old hometown during high school. When I would return to visit, I discovered a strange but freeing phenomenon taking place in my perception. Somehow it seemed smaller, almost temporal. It became benign and non-threatening. The interpersonal conflicts and dramas that existed there somehow lost their weight and seemed nothing more than a passing wind. Did something change in the place I used to call home? Or, did something change in me? No, the people were the same. I had changed.
Having moved back many years ago, it has been as if that perception steadily waned over time. Eventually the smallness, the loss of power these surroundings had to affect me internally, seemed to vanish, and I instead, became small. Did something change in me? Or did something change in the place I called my home? No, the people were all the same. I had changed.
The other day it struck me profoundly: I noticed in a familiar but new way the gaping chasm between this broken-down and temporary place and the reality of eternity that exists beyond this dying flesh-and-concrete prison. Not only in my hometown, but this world. And it was freeing
Jesus said ” Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its young shoots become tender and it puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near; so you, too, when you see all these things [taking place], know for certain that He is near, right at the door. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, this generation [the people living when these signs and events begin] will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth [as now known] will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”
(Matthew 24:32-35 Amp )
“For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.” (1 Chronicles 29:15)
The word of God makes a clear distinction between His kingdom and the systems or culture of this world. In Hebrews 11 we read a collective testimony of what it means to walk by faith: those who have “gone off the deep end” according to the standards of this world.
” By faith Abraham, when he was called [by God], obeyed by going to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land, as in a strange land, living in tents [as nomads] with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise.
For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has foundations, [an eternal, heavenly city] whose architect and builder is God.
All these died in faith [guided and sustained by it], without receiving the [tangible fulfillment of God’s] promises, only having seen (anticipated) them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Now those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for a country of their own. And if they had been thinking of that country from which they departed [as their true home], they would have had [a continuing] opportunity to return. But the truth is that they were longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
For that reason God is not ashamed [of them or] to be called their God [even to be surnamed their God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]; for He has prepared a city for them.
By faith Moses, after his birth, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful and divinely favored child; and they were not afraid of the king’s (Pharaoh’s) decree. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, because he preferred to endure the hardship of the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of the Christ [that is, the rebuke he would suffer for his faithful obedience to God] to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt; for he looked ahead to the reward [promised by God]. By faith he left Egypt, being unafraid of the wrath of the king; for he endured [steadfastly], as seeing Him who is unseen.
And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith [that is, with an enduring trust in God and His promises] subdued kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouths of lions, extinguished the power of [raging] fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became mighty and unbeatable in battle, putting enemy forces to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured [to death], refusing to accept release [offered on the condition of denying their faith], so that they would be resurrected to a better life; and others experienced the trial of mocking and scourging [amid torture], and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned [to death], they were sawn in two, they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith], they were put to death by the sword; they went about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and [living in] caves and holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11 AMP )
Those who live as citizens of the kingdom of God will walk inversely proportionate to those who serve worldly appetites. There is a glaring contrast.
“For there are many, of whom I have often told you, and now tell you even with tears, who live as enemies of the cross of Christ [rejecting and opposing His way of salvation], whose fate is destruction, whose god is their belly [their worldly appetite, their sensuality, their vanity], and whose glory is in their shame—who focus their mind on earthly and temporal things. But [we are different, because] our citizenship is in heaven. And from there we eagerly await [the coming of] the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”
“Our citizenship is in heaven”… …not this world, not the USA, not a state, or even a hometown. We are exiles and strangers here: foreigners in a strange land. We don’t belong here, but we do have a mission.
Has this world lost it’s grip on you? Have you “gone off the deep end” where God will part the waters? Are you seeing the temporary-ness and dying condition of this world? Is the reality of everlasting life “stamped on your eyeballs”? Can you hear the Lord’s heart to save souls right now? Or are you staying safe in shallow pools of self-preservation, placing in your heart the customs and decrees of this world above being completely surrendered and dependent upon Jesus Christ? The question I’ve been asking myself is, am I looking for a safe place to escape or am I living with the confidence in His promise of my place in everlasting Life?
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1John 2:17)
“Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. And [to the place] where I am going, you know the way.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; so how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “ I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
(John 14:1-6 AMP)
How relevant are these warnings in Scripture becoming as time marches on toward the final days? :
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” (Matthew 7:13)
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth of] Christ.”
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:15-16)
Finally, as the condition of this world deteriorates further, we need to be meditating and standing upon the precious and powerful promises in God’s word. These are verses to remind ourselves of daily:
“By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:4)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
“I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, bereaved, and helpless]; I will come [back] to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. On that day [when that time comes] you will know for yourselves that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.
(John 14:18-20 AMP)
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.””(John 8:12)
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, that you will weep and grieve [in great mourning], but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has pain because her time [to give birth] has come; but when she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of her joy that a child has come into the world. So for now you are in grief; but I will see you again, and [then] your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away from you your [great] joy. In that day you will not [need to] ask Me about anything. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name [as My representative], He will give you.”
(John 16:20-23 AMP)
The cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ includes “moving out” of this world spiritually, looking at the world as your old hometown. With the awareness you belong to an entirely different kingdom, the old one no longer has the power to affect you internally: it has lost it’s grip on you. To the world, you will have lost your grip. Your grip on status, on money, possessions, habits, reputation, and on sin.
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:26)
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14-16)
While we may temporarily live here, this world is truly not our home. How important is it to know that our souls are sealed for heaven? 1 John 5:19 reads that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, in wickedness. We can see in 2 corinthians 4:4 that the god of this world is Satan, and he has blinded the minds of those who do not believe the gospel.
If you have not yet come to God for the forgiveness of your sins , confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, and believed that God has raised Him from the dead, please know He is waiting for you with open arms. Won’t you call upon Him? Today is the day He can give you a new heart, light in the darkness, eyes that see, power to be called a son or daughter of God, and everlasting life. Make this world your old hometown. Become a part of the Kingdom of Heaven.