An alien in a foreign land stands out because they are different. They speak a different language (or at least with an accent), they dress differently, celebrate different holidays, and have different values. According to the New Testament a Christian is to be different, like a stranger in a strange land. I have used this verse time and time again in my ponderings, but here it is one more time:
11 Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and exiles to keep on abstaining from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. 12 Continue to live such upright lives among the Gentiles that, when they slander you as evildoers, they may see your good works and glorify God when he visits them in judgment. (1 Peter 2:11-12; ISV)
How does the apostle Peter want us to live? As aliens and exiles! We are displaced. We are not at home. I want you to catch this: when we live no differently than the world we are no better off than the world. God isn’t interested in people who will merely confess Him and believe in Him, everyone is going to do that anyway. What God wants is a people who will live by faith. People who will be motivated by a different set of desires. People who live by a different set of standards. People who love people no one else will love. People who will remember they are on a journey to get home. What is the value of believing in Jesus if that belief doesn’t change your life? Is such a belief really faith?
Read what Erwin McManus wrote in The Barbarian Way:
“From the moment we become citizens of the kingdom of God, we become aliens and strangers in a world that chooses to live absent of God. From the first step taken to follow Jesus, we are out of step with the rest of the world. Once your life is in sync with the story of God, you become out of sync with any story that attempts to ignore or eliminate God. You are a stranger to them, an alien among them, a nomadic wanderer who, while refusing to be rooted in this life, seems to somehow enjoy this life most.” (p. 93)
Are you walking out of step with the world? I am afraid that most of us aren’t. Sure we may have morality issues with how the sinners live, but our hopes and dreams are wrapped up in the very same things the world hopes and dreams for. Success, money, happiness, and love. The list could go on, but the point is that while we are morally different from the world we are not spiritually different from them. That my friends was one of the problems Jesus had with the Pharisees. They looked good on the outside, but the inside they were filled with dead men’s bones. White washed tombs. We need to quite fooling ourselves that be different from the world is just about morals. Being different from the world primarily has to do with our desires, dreams, attitudes, and thoughts.
I am coming to believe that one of the ways we truly begin to live differently than the rest of the world is to begin to desire heaven. An exile doesn’t put down roots in the land he is living. Instead he hopes and dreams for his home and thinks of ways to one day return. How can we think about settling for the things of this world when God is offering us so much more? How can we think about being like the citizens of the world when God is calling us to be citizens of heaven? This world is not our home so let us not act like it is.
- Point to Ponder: When we live no differently than the world we are no better off than the world.
- Passage to Remember: 1 Peter 2:11-12
- Question to Consider: Are you living out of step with the world?