Surprised by Hope – Citizenship

Surprised by hope - wrightTom Wright has spoken about many things in his book, Surprised by Hope, which I’m currently halfway through. A lot of it has to do with bodily resurrection and life after death (which I’ll get onto later).

He makes a good connection with the idea of citizenship with Paul writes about in Philippians. “My citizenship in is heaven”. Philippi was a roman colony by virtue of the fact that Octavian and Mark Anthony defeated Brutus (who assassinated Julius Caesar) just outside the city. As a reward for the Philippian faithfulness Octavian (who became Ceasar Augustus) made them citizens of Rome. There were many citizens of Rome floating about the Roman Empire including inhabitants of other cities like Philippi and former soldiers who had been rewarded for their effort. Being a citizen of Rome did not mean that you all grabbed your stuff and moved to Rome. Rome wasn’t big enough for that. It meant that all the freedoms and privileges that Roman citizens get in Rome were now available to you wherever you are. In a sense, Rome comes to you, not you go to Rome.

Being a citizen of heaven is the same – we’re not all going to up sticks and go and live somewhere else in heaven. The privileges and wonder of heaven will come to us on this earth. They are already partly available to us by virtue of the Holy Spirit given after the resurrection, but all privileges will be fully available when God restores his creation into the perfect physical creation when Jesus’ comes again. This is the image at the end of Revelation when the heavenly city comes down to earth

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Rev 21:1-2

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