“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Philippians 3:21 KJV
The 17th Century King James Version of the Bible has a way of restoring a 1st Century clarity to the message of Paul by using words that have developed a different meaning in the 21st Century. See if you agree.
In this case, one contemporary translation substituted “citizenship” for “conversation” in a good faith effort to provided clarity. The result suggests a meaning with an American version of Biblical truth. It is not always an improvement. Stay with me.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” V. 20 NASB
The state primary elections are taking shape in Texas. All the candidates are competing with one another to influence the citizens to “Vote for ME.” The morning talk shows, and evening news shows all carry interviews and commercials calling for citizens to “Get Out The Vote.”
Responsible citizens are sorting through all the mail being received from the candidates, preparing to cast their vote for the right person in the upcoming elections. After all, the most fundamental expression of responsible citizenship is to vote for responsible leaders, and to hold them accountable for their actions. Christian citizens should not take a back seat, but lead the way in this. But I digress.
The use of the word “conversation” hardly conjures up any image of “citizenship.” We are all influenced by our environment and personal experiences. The two meanings must be related, but hardly seem to have any similar DNA. They do.
The word “citizenship” is a translation rooted in the same word that provides the English language with “politics.” It carries the meaning of a constitution or commonwealth, the guidelines agreed upon to influence the conduct and behavior of the citizens. “Conversation” indeed.
In Paul’s mind, the behavior of the Christian citizen on earth was influenced by adherence to and agreement with the Lordship of Jesus in Heaven. Perhaps the word “conversation” is not so antiquated. Nothing influences a person’s behavior and conduct on earth quite like having a steady, consistent, uninterrupted conversation with Jesus.
Jesus lives to intercede. In Heaven, He is seated at the right hand of The Father, and prays for His followers. When the children of God pray, The Spirit of Christ carries and interprets their most feeble groan or their most intense petition to Jesus.
Prayer at its very essence is a “conversation in Heaven.” There is noting like it to influence the behavior and conduct of a Christian citizen on earth. Prayer, as a “conversation in Heaven,” purifies a citizen’s Christ-like character, and intensifies a citizen’s expectancy for The Lord’s return.
Prayer accomplishes its greatest work in the heart of Christian citizens when they can gather as The Body politic and say, “We eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” V. 21 NASB
Prayer creates a spirit of expectancy and a sense of urgency in the heart of the Christian citizen for Christ’s companionship and for His return. Prayerless people are not left on their own, but they choose to be on their own, trusting in a sense of their own self-importance, and self-sufficiency. Prayerlessness is foolishness and leads to barrenness.
There is nothing more “vile” than the smell of the body politic posing as The Body of Christ, but having lost the aroma of The Fruit of The Spirit. Prayerless people led by prayerless preachers choose to sweat it out on earth. The prayerless produce the odor of the flesh found in a machine shop. The Body of Christ should project the aroma of the fresh fruit of a farmer’s market. Big difference.
Prayer transforms the prideful into the humble, by bringing people to the end of themselves and to the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” V. 21 NASB
The object of prayer is to transform Christian citizens on earth into subjects of The Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven. The Spirit of prayer infuses a spirit of expectancy for Christ’s return into the hearts of the prayerful, and a spirit of desperation in the hearts of the prayerless. Either way…TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!