This weekend I crossed the border into Mexico for a weekend mission’s trip, helping a church plant paint their new church. Things are not great in Mexico right now, with the drug wars, kidnappings, and murders, but when you go where God leads and do the work He calls you to do, you also have to put yourself in His hands and trust that live or die, He’s in control.
Everything went fine though. I saw some soldiers patrolling but that was about it, until the ride back. While we waited in line on the bridge, we saw a group of young men swim across the Rio Grande to the U.S. They crawled out of the water and scurried over to and under the fence, looking all around to make sure no one could see them, which was somewhat funny since they were in full view of hundreds of people on the bridge who were all pointing at them and talking animatedly.
We guessed that they got spooked or were drug couriers because they came running back without the bags they were carrying and swam back across the river to Mexico.
There’s a lot of debate going on in the U.S. about illegal immigration, and watching the scene unfold below me didn’t really sway me one way or the other, but it did get me thinking about another kind of immigration.
As Christians, we’re immigrating to a new country in eternity because as soon as we believe on and follow Christ we’re naturalized as heavenly citizens.
Philippians 3:20 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
But our heavenly homeland doesn’t have illegal immigration. No one can just swim across the clouds and slip under the pearly gates. No one can apply for a visa or vacation there and then leave. You’re either a citizen or your not, and if you’re not, there’s no hope for gaining access.
And there’s only one way to become a citizen: Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Truly, truly, I say to you, . . . I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 14:6 & 10:7,9)
Naturalization as a heavenly citizen starts and ends with Jesus. And He ask that we repent Matthew 4:17, stop sinning (John 8:11), and follow Him by loving God with everything we have and loving others as ourselves (Matthew 22:37).
Therefore, as a citizen of heaven and an ambassador for Christ, I beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
And working together with Him, I also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—for He says, "at the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you." Today is "the acceptable time," and now is your “day of salvation!” *