Monday, May 21, 2012

Living in a Foreign Land

The follower of Jesus Christ is being guided through the dangerous wilderness of this world.  I wonder if we, as the Church, have missed this point.  Our sermons, lessons, and books deal with how we can have our best life now and how to live a life of purpose, but we seldom hear that we strangers in a strange land.  It seems to me that our teachings are designed help us blend into the world rather than empowering us to stand out.

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.  Christians are to live like foreigners in a strange land.  Our goal isn't to learn the language and the customs of this world, but to adopt the customs of the Kingdom of Heaven. The apostle Peter wrote:
Dear friends, I warn you as "temporary residents and foreigners" to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (1 Peter 2:11-12; NLT)
How does the apostle Peter want us to live?  As "temporary residents" and "foreigners"! We are displaced.  We are not at home!

I want you to catch this: when we live no differently than the world we are not part of God's Kingdom!  God isn’t interested in people who will merely confess Him and believe in Him.  The Bible tells us that everyone will bow a knee confess Jesus as Lord.  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 not abandon the customs of their home country, but will teach those customs to others.  By living differently we proclaim to the world that there is a better way to live!

In his book The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus wrote:
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?  My great concern is that we are not.  I know that many of us have an issue with the morality of the world, but our hopes and dreams are wrapped up in the very same things the world hopes and dreams for.  Our dreams and desires center around 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 on the inside they were filled with dead men’s bones.  White washed tombs.  We need to quite fooling ourselves that to be different from the world is just about having the right moral standard.  Being different from the world primarily has to do with our desires, dreams, attitudes, and thoughts. It is about the direction of our lives and what we are willing to give our lives away to.

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 the New Creation God has promised His children.  A temporary resident doesn’t put down roots in the land he is living.  Instead he hopes and dreams for his home and thinks of the day when he will finally go home.  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 the Kingdom of Heaven?  Since this world is not our home let us live like citizens of Heaven.


Min.Dre said...

Amen my good brother. I totally agree with this. A lot of us are not living as visitors in passing. We are still trying to be politically correct to the spiritually sick. And even though there is a time and a place for everything at the minimal we should be modeling after Christ. Christ ministered and lived as a visitor in passing. He knew he was returning back to The Father. But while he was here on earth he did the works of the Lord unwavering and unapologetic. We must begin to separate ourselves from not just worldly ways within us, but around us. Care for this world but not get caught up in the cares of this world. For this world cares nothing of Christ and the resurrection. As always i love reading your posts. I am thankful to have found your blog and to your obedience to Christ. Bless

Paul Steele said...

I am glad that you are finding encouragement here. I agree with your sentiment. Thanks again for the comment.

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