Aliens and strangers don’t feel like they belong to the community or country in which they live. Anyone who has traveled either for leisure or other purposes know the experience of being ‘stared at,’ ‘questioned,’ hearing sounds and seeing sights that push one’s senses to the limit. It’s relatively easy to feel like a stranger!
My wife and I just recently returned from a lengthy road trip. I pondered, during the trip, how my grandparents would have felt traveling in a ‘motor vehicle’ a distance of over 9,000 km (round trip). I reflected on my mother’s childhood experience in North Dakota, my uncle’s life for a time in British Columbia, my great uncle’s life in White Rock to name just a few family connections to the area we visited.
In I Peter 2:11-12 Peter reminds the Christ-followers to whom he is writing, that they ‘don’t belong.’
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world,…”
They are friends to Peter, dear friends and actually members of the same ‘blood-bought’ family. They belong to God and are vitally connected to each other in God’s grace, but in relationship to the world system in which they live, they are ‘aliens and strangers.’ Their values are not their community’s values. They are ‘salt’ in a decaying culture, and ‘light’ in a dark environment.
I have visited a few other countries in the years God has entrusted to me and have been blessed to meet people from various cultures. Those who know Christ are ‘family’ and though our communication may be very ‘limited,’ there is a sense, borne by the Holy Spirit, that we share a common Father. I’ve discussed with some who are bilingual or trilingual their interaction with the cultures in which they live. They don’t belong. Some have been beaten, tortured and have paid a huge price for standing for Christ. They ‘stick out’ and are an irritant to a God-hostile government and world system. They provide conclusive evidence that God’s ‘worldview’ and life transforming Spirit-led children are ‘out of touch.’ They belong to God, but not to the world. They don’t expect their government to defend them or to pass legislation which would give them favoured status. They look beyond their citizenship on earth, and tenaciously cling to citizenship rights of a ‘heavenly country.’
What does Peter urge these ‘out-of-sorts’ citizens of earth?
“..to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”
The choice is simple for Christ-followers, though not easy. Instead of ‘indulging’ they ‘abstain.’ Instead of conforming to the world, they are transformed in their minds and live out truthfully as God’s ambassadors.
What happens to those who do not abstain? I’ve seen my share of life, and knowing my own heart as well, I recognize how easy it is to ‘swim’ downstream with the other fish. Upstream, counter-current swimming is not for the faint of heart. The resistance of the water is huge and yet God’s grace enables those who rest upon it, to keep going forward. Sinful desires are destructive. They ‘war’ against your soul and erode the very core of your life.
To which group do you belong? Abstainers or indulgers? What ‘sinful desires’ are you tolerating rather than resisting? Perhaps it’s time to read some ‘science fiction’ and learn to adopt an ‘alien’ worldview!