Here in Chapter 3, we enter the text just after Paul has talked about resigning his “Jewish-ness” for the sake of Christ. All that was embodied in his rightful claim as a Jewish man, he let go of and renounced for what he gains in Christ.
Then he says in vs. 17 – “Join in imitating me”
Obviously, there are few, if any, Jews in this area. Which is why he goes on to use the language he does. He wants to help them connect what he’s saying about the identity Christ has brought to us, and to this place we live.
“There are enemies of the cross…I’ve told you of them, and now I tell you with tears.” Paul is obviously experiencing an intense emotion here, perhaps knowing that what he’s asking them to do could turn out very badly for them short term.
But Paul’s is not a short term message. :)
He declares to them, and to us….OUR CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN!!!
We represent the rule and presence of Jesus Christ in our world. We live not according to the systems and powers of this place we live, but according to the way of Jesus Christ.
Immediately, the hearers of Paul’s message may have begun thinking about what it would mean to claim Jesus as Christ, instead of Caesar. Caesar was often called “savior”, because it was his word, his power, his presence that would rescue and restore order in chaos.
What is our “Caesar”?
As an individual – what rules your life? Money? Time? Ourselves? Preparation for the future? Anxiety? “Success”?
What would it mean for us to claim Jesus, instead of that…as our Christ?
As a church – what or who is ruling us? The desire to be larger or more exciting than other churches? Numbers on paper, whether it’s attendance, membership, offerings, how much we give, how many people we serve? To be financially stable? To make sure we always do things this way or that, or always strive to be “new” or “on the edge”?
What would it mean for us as a local church to claim Jesus anew, as our Christ?
Paul knows that when they, and when we…think of changes, and “little deaths”, or possibly even real deaths for them…that will occur when we choose Jesus…we need to be reminded that these bodies, and these lives, are temporary.
That people who live according to their appetites, are worshiping their “stomachs”. The word used here can be anything from the "carnal, lustful, etc", or even "the inner most part of a man, soul, desires". Not inherently bad, but not intended to be what we live according to. Our minds are not supposed to be set on these things.
We are citizens of heaven, and when our Savior comes he will transform these “humble bodies”. That’s a nice way to put it, for most of us. To look at the imperfections, fallen-ness, etc…and to simply say “humble bodies”.
We will be transformed to being conformed (summorphon – only other place used is Romans 8:29… “those predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son”) with the body of His GLORY.
What is the body of His glory?
Not the body we see on the cross, but the body we see after the resurrection. One not OF this world, bound by the laws of nature. But a body that pays no regard to decay or the negative impact of aging. Physical, as we see doubting Thomas touch the hands of Jesus. But also somehow not bound by physical laws, as we see Jesus entering the locked room without any doors or windows being opened for him.
Paul doesn’t try to explain how this will happen, it’s not important. It will happen, just as all things that exist are subject to God. That God, is the one who’s eternal Kingdom we are now living as citizens of.
And what are Paul’s final words in these verses? Come back tomorrow as we close out this section...