What stands out to me about this passage is that Paul was confident enough in his own spiritual journey to invite others to imitate him. This does not mean Paul felt he had it all figured out or had the answers. But Paul knew his life was one of trying to walk in Jesus’ footsteps every day. So he called the Philippians to imitate him as he imitated Jesus. He knew doing so would lead them to live as if they were citizens of heaven, since it was heaven’s values that Paul was striving to live out here and now.
How about you? What values are shaping your life? It is easy to be a Sunday Christian, where only one day in seven you are thinking about God or trying to live differently than one does when swept up in the world’s values at large. We are called to learn to be, like Paul, people living as citizens of heaven. In our work-a-day world, whether at the 9 to 5 or in our homes and neighborhoods, we are called to live out the values of heaven here and now. We are called to live as if the Lord’s Prayer “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven” I being answered right now, where we are. That means the values Jesus exemplified of doing justice, of loving all without condition, and of working to help bring healing in this world are in the forefront of our minds and hearts. It means keeping our connection with God and our spirituality deep even when the storms of life and temptation to cynicism, heartlessness, and throwing our hands up to give up are strong.
When we do this, we make a difference. At least in our sphere of influence, the world is a better place with more love, more understanding, more compassion, and more inclusiveness. When we do this, we do pave a way just like Paul did.
Let’s take time this day – and each day that lies ahead of us – to contemplate what our day would look like if we lived as if heaven was touching earth. Then let’s each choose to be one who lets that happen through our actions. What a difference it will make!