17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 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 3:17-21 NIV
Earlier in this chapter, Paul had been discussing his desire to know Christ and his commitment to live, not in the past, but striving to be what Christ wants him to be. And then he encourages the Philippian believers to follow his example, as well as others who live like he did.
After that encouragement, he shares with them something that breaks his heart. There are those who live as enemies of the cross of Christ. It would be tempting to assume that Paul is referring to unbelievers here, and that was my take until recently. But I have come to believe that is not really who he was referring to at all. Rather he is referring to those who claim to be believers, yet fail to follow the example Paul sets, living instead to satisfy their own desires.
Paul claims that these pseudo-Christians have made a god out of their stomach, or desires. They have their minds set on the things of this earth, rather than the things of God. In other words they live to make themselves happy, fulfilling the desires of their heart, seldom really thinking about what God wants of them. And it saddens me to realize that all too often I fall into that category; more concerned about myself than I am about God.
Those who follow the example of Paul, turning away from their past and striving for God’s purpose in their lives, have citizenship in heaven and are waiting for a salvation that will transform them into something like Christ. Those who continue to live as a part of this world, satisfying their human desires, face destruction.
Am I going to let go of this world and pursue what God has prepared for me, or am I going to cling to this world and enjoy it as much as I can? My future is dependent on that choice. I can have what this world has to offer, and face eternal destruction. Or I can pursue God, as a citizen of heaven, and experience the salvation he has prepared for me. The choice is yours … as well as mine!