Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

Genesis 3: 23

 

There is an old expression, “There is trouble in the garden.” which refers to the fact that there is struggle and strife in whatever form of human relationship is undergoing scrutiny. This expression and the idea behind it come directly from the third chapter of Genesis. This is the point in the narrative of human history where people turned away from God and began to believe that they were more capable of determining their own course and proceeding through life. This is the moment when the perfection of creation was fractured and the absolute intimacy between people and God was almost fatally broken. All of humanity became estranged from God, and God required these newly defined strangers to disperse out of the eternity of His absolute presence.

 

Although we started this long history of life outside of the garden of God’s total presence in a place to the east from the home of our creation, over time and as our numbers increased we migrated to every corner of the world. Yet, each of these new lands and all of the territory that we occupied remained a foreign land in regards to restoration of our place in intimate relationship with God. So, throughout the history of humanity, God has retained the role of pursuing shepherd. He has continually come out in search of the lost, the Lord has provided comfort and protection for us in this harsh land of our own choosing, and the Father provided the Son to be a final and absolute answer to this separation.

 

So, all people are strangers to the land of God’s dwelling. We spend our lives in transit from the sin-ravaged and desolate landscapes of our birth toward a land where we can dwell in the presence of our Creator. Some people arrive in this place, and others never find its rest. The difference in those journeys is Christ. Knowing Him transforms our personal dwelling, that is our bodies, into God’s promised land of grace, love, and peace for the soul. Until we know Christ, we remain strangers and migrants on a road through life that leads only to death. God purposefully takes us in as immigrants to His kingdom of life, and through Christ all people without regard to race, religion, or place of birth become full citizens of God’s renewed spiritual kingdom.

Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3: 20

 

 

I live here, in this house, in this town, and on the earth. This is where all of the visible and tangible things that I do are carried out, and this world’s physical boundaries are what tend to define my home. Yet, Paul saw his world quite differently from just being framed by the people, places, and laws of man that existed where he lived. It seems that Paul was acutely aware of the change in the real, from the heart, allegiance that he had sworn when Christ became his Lord and Savior. At that time Paul and everyone else who has entered into the same transforming relationship with God through Christ were changed from being citizens of this world into holding citizenship in heaven.

 

Citizenship, as used here, is a reference to much more than just the nation that would issue us a passport or a statement of allegiance to a particular governmental entity. The word used refers to the concept of living in community, and it implies the existence of a conversation, a dialogue, with that community. In Christ, this is what we all gain. We become a participant, not just an observer, in the ancient dialogue between God and people; thus, our worldview can become elevated from our earth-bound one to God’s heavenly vista.

 

Recognizing this reality and choosing to live in its marvelous possibilities can profoundly alter the way that you and I view our lives. When we seek to open our hearts and minds to the ongoing conversation that the Lord wants to have with us, and we seek to live each minute of every day with that dialogue guiding our thinking; our understanding of our physical world will be altered. Then we can see the sort of potential that God sees in the people and in the situations that we will encounter, and our hearts will be guided through those encounters by the ever present words of wisdom, grace, peace, and love that come directly into our hearts from the Spirit of Christ. As we choose to truly dwell in the righteous and just land that is the Kingdom of God, we expose the parallel world that is this earth to the hope of salvation that comes only in Christ.