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No Hassles At The Border

April 14, 2018

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20

American citizens flying to and from neighboring nations like Canada and Mexico used to get by with carrying a birth certificate or, in some cases, just a driver’s license as a travel document. Not anymore! Now we’re all required to carry a valid US passport. Without that document, you don’t get out, and you don’t get back in.

You know, a passport is an interesting little book. In the opportunities I have had to travel internationally, I’ve noticed that your passport and the visa stamped inside dramatically impacts your arrival experience. If you’re arriving in your home country, your passport usually enables you to bypass the long lines of visitors. Instead of a series of questions when I land back in the States, I’ve often been greeted by a hearty “Welcome home!” from the immigration officials.

But that’s not always true when you’re away from home. A friend of mine, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Pastor Emeritus of Moody Church in Chicago, has often traveled in countries closed to the gospel. He has some very interesting stories of how, upon arrival in these countries, he is usually hassled and questioned extensively because the guards think he’s an agent for the CIA or, better yet, a Bible smuggler! Well, after an excruciating experience at a border crossing, he said to me, “You know what I love, Joe? I love the thought that when I get to heaven . . . with Jesus on my passport, there will be no hassles at the border.”

Wow, what a great thought! Over and over again in Scripture we are reminded that, although this world is our temporary home, we’re not to get too comfortable here. Our true home is in heaven where our citizenship resides. You may be hassled at work, with friends, or on a trip to a third-world country, but when you get home, Jesus guarantees no hassle at the border!

In Paul’s day, citizenship was a huge deal. In the Roman Empire there were major privileges linked with being a Roman citizen. Things like land ownership, access to the judicial system, and protection from certain punishments all depended on your status as a citizen. Paul, as a Roman citizen, occasionally tapped into these advantages for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, but he certainly didn’t depend on them. His encounter with Christ had changed everything, to the extent that he said, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). He knew that his new status as a citizen of heaven carried far greater joys and privileges!

You and I are invited to that same privilege. We can have the assurance that delights both Paul and my friend Dr. Lutzer. We can look forward to being welcomed into our true home, based not on our attempt at good works or our earthly accomplishments, but based on a spiritual passport stamped with the finished work of Jesus Christ.

So I guess it begs the question, doesn’t it? Is Jesus on your passport? Do you know that for sure? He died for you to guarantee a smooth entry into heaven. In fact, He’s now preparing a place for you, the Bible says, and will one day come back to check passports and take you home with Him (John 14:1-4). And here’s the good news: When you get there, with Jesus on your passport there will be no hassles at the border. Just a hearty, “Welcome home!”


  • What are you trusting in for entry into heaven? Anything other than the work of Jesus Christ is insufficient. But the good news is that you can trust in Him and receive your “passport” today!
  • How does your status as a “citizen of heaven” give you confidence and joy in your daily tasks today?
  • Paul said that he “eagerly awaited” the return of his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Is your attitude about Christ’s return marked by that kind of eagerness?