I want to speak for a moment about the passing of Pastor Tim Keller. Many of you know he has had a great influence on both Pastor Dave and myself as it relates to preaching and ministry. Tim had so many great quotes and insights I see floating around Facebook and the like, but the thing I have found most impactful about Tim Keller was the way he lived his life. Person after person who knew him well would simply say, “Tim Keller was the real deal. He really lived what he preached. He loved Jesus. He encouraged me—he saw me when no one else did.”
There is an account of FaceBook called, “The Daily Keller.” The guy who runs the account puts up Tim Keller quotes everyday. When Tim passed, the account holder (also named Tim), made a post about the first time he met Tim Keller at a conference. He spoke with him for a few moments, but right before Keller had to go on stage, the younger Tim who runs Daily Keller said this, “Thank you for making Jesus beautiful.” Tim Keller paused, choked back some tears, and simply said, “That’s the point.”
Tim Keller offered, not just words, but a pattern to follow in life and in death. He lived, and passed, with the ENDGAME in mind. What will people say about you? Are you making Jesus beautiful in how you live? So, pursue the right prize, choose the right pattern, but the last thing is that hard part which is to Stay at the right post.
Stay at the Right POST (Philippians 3:20-21)
The right post is where you are RIGHT NOW! God has placed you here, with unique circumstances and abilities to build his kingdom. He wants you to bring heaven to earth in all your spheres of influence. Paul starts by reminding us who we are in verse 20:
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:20, NIV)
We are citizens of heaven. This phrase came up back in chapter 1. You may remember that Pastor Dave highlight the Greek word, “Politeuma,” which is used for citizens/citizenship. It’s where we get our English word for politics.
Speaking of politics, you have heard there is an election happening in 2024. Things are heating up and over the next 18 months, there will be plenty of opportunities to get distracted by the prize. There will be plenty of opportunities for division to creep into the church. I think Paul would say to the American church today, “don’t let earthly politics divide the church.” That does not mean it is unimportant. There are major issues to debate; issues that should be debated in grace. We should seek to live out our Christian convictions in a way that blesses the world. We must always remember that we ultimately serve a better king and a better kingdom … and in the end everything will be alright. Our orders ultimately come from the heavenly throne and not an earthly one.
Where do you orders come from, church?
This image of citizenship in Philippians was a powerful one. The Philippians were proud of their Roman citizenship. But it went even deeper. You see, Philippi was an OUTPOST of the Roman empire. Paul was writing to them from Rome, the capitol. So they regularly awaited news from the capitol on how to conduct their business. So when Paul says that they are citizens of heaven, he is cutting right to their hearts and ours. He is reminding them that no matter how proud you are of your earthly citizenship that your heavenly one matters more.
And what does Paul say? Live as citizens of HEAVEN. How?
1. Practice COUNTERCULTURAL Patience.
Notice he says we are waiting for Jesus to return. The word for savior is the Greek word SOTER. In this context it often referred to the emperor, Caesar. Paul was turning the concept on its head right here the real SOTER was Jesus Christ. We patiently and hopefully wait for his second coming. This means that, even if the world is falling apart, we can live with hope because Jesus will win in the end. How do we live with hope? We have to stay at our outpost here on earth and daily seek instructions from our True King. We are holding the line until our king comes with his angel armies to remake this world.
At any point in life, there can be a tendency to abandon our posts because we are impatient. God doesn’t answer as quickly as we think he should. Staying at out post requires patience! As we practice this patience, we need to…
2. Feel the Upward Pull.
Look at verse 21:
“Who, 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.” (Philippians 3:21, NIV)
Our bodies will be transformed. So many of the distractions we face today relate to the downward pull of our bodies. We are drawn to the things of this world. And, yes, God does bless us with many things in this life, but they will all fade away. All that will be left is the eternal.
When Jesus, our SOTER, returns the trumpet will sound and we will be raised, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15, we will be changed and transformed to receive a glorious eternal body. It will be beyond what we can ever imagine! That is the end of history. That is the final end to the arc of life and it is just the beginning.
Church, do you know what this means? It means that no matter what life throws at us, we will get through it. God is in control. You did not get in that school? It’s going to be okay. You got passed over for that job? It’s going to be okay. You got diagnosed with cancer? As hard as it is to believe, in the end it is going to be okay. Your child is born with special needs? It’s going to be okay! You know why? Because the SOTER is coming, Jesus is coming, we don’t know exactly when, but he is coming with power and one day he will bring EVERYTHING under his control. Until that time, Christian, stay at your post. You may be discouraged, but like Dr. William Leslie, you may never know how God is using your right now!
Christians should never run around like the sky is falling, because we await our SOTER from heaven. Friends are you living today like he Savior is coming back soon?! Christian, stay at your post!