Little Italy and Chinatown are two neighborhoods located in the lower Manhattan area of New York City. Famous for its diversity, the Big Apple is host to these two little pockets that allow residents and tourists alike to enjoy the culture of another country. From food to language, the immersive experience draws people to sample just a tiny portion of what this country is all about. Those who walk through these mini-countries delight in what they discover yet they would not be able to if not for someone carefully creating them. What caused their origin? It began with a longing for the old country. These immigrants who made the bold and brave choice to leave their homeland for a chance at a better life found themselves lost in a new county and left with a yearning. While they crafted a life for their families their desire for the old ways and comforts were so strong that it caused them to surround their part of town with the familiar. In the middle of another country, another soon was nestled inside, enabling those who had never been to get a little taste.
In chapter three of Philippians, Paul reminds the congregation of believers that they were not citizens of this world.
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20
The word “conversation” means community or citizenship. Paul wanted the Philippians to remember that they were merely resident aliens of Earth. Their citizenship was in heaven which is theirs, as well as ours, true homeland. This thought caused me to consider something. Those immigrants in New York City, who landed there so many decades ago, deeply longed for the old country which drove them to build a community within a community that was woven with the familiar elements of home. Shouldn’t we, as citizens of heaven, have such a longing for heaven that it causes us to create a home that reflects heaven on earth?
A choice to be different
Those who came by sea could have chosen to immerse themselves in this new and unique land. They could have embraced their ways of doing things, adopted their language, and eaten their food but the love of their own beautiful heritage and culture was greater. Of course, they were good residents in this new country and sought to obey the laws and contribute to their new community but they still held true to their own values. Because of this desire, others now experience a taste of their country.
As citizens of heaven, our homes should be a small taste of heaven to all who enter. Both family, friends, and guests should know that Christ reigns in this home. What does it take to craft a heaven-minded home? It begins with yielding our home to God and walking in the Spirit. There is something else that is needed, a desire. The immigrants of old never forget their heritage or their old homeland. Even though they embraced life in America they still craved the familiar. Can we say that we long for the things of Heaven? Are our eyes lifted heavenward toward the things above or are we finding our delight in the things of earth? Those who crafted Little Italy were good residents of New York City but they did not want to lose who they were. That is what can happen when you immerse yourself in what is around you. As believers, we can never lose our salvation but we can lose our identity by choosing to embrace the world’s philosophies and appearances over Christlikeness. The more we adapt to the world the less impact we have in it for Christ.
A Necessary Ingredient
Familiarity is a necessary ingredient when building a heaven-minded home. The immigrants were familiar with the qualities and characteristics that made their culture theirs. We must do the same by spending time in the Word of God. This is how we became familiar with the needful elements such as the fruit of the Spirit. A heaven-minded home contains love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. It is a home where things like anger, envy, bitterness, and slander are absent. Instead, kindness, forgiveness, and tenderness thrive and are liberally used by every person who resides there. This is a home where the Bible is not just read but cherished and applied to every situation. Prayer is also a key component in this home.
Impacting the world
Just as Little Italy and Chinatown give visitors a taste of the old country, a heaven-minded home should let every guest experience a little bit of heaven on earth. What would happen if they did? Many who have walked these unique sections of New York City felt a desire stir inside of them to go and visit the original countries that served as the inspiration. It is the ideal marketing campaign. Would those who came to our homes desire to go to heaven based on what they experienced? Would they want to know more about Jesus because of how we lived our lives? I believe it should, which is why how we live our lives as resident aliens of earth matters. As long as we reside here we should make every effort to create a little bit of heaven around us so that we encourage fellow believers to stay upwardly focused and be a witness to those who are lost.
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I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.