Foreigners and Exiles

We do all that we can to fit in … but should we?

As kids in school we tried everything humanly possible to avoid sticking out. As adults we attempt the same thing. We want to look and sound like our peers.

Is our goal as followers of Jesus Christ to fit in?

 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires,which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. – 1 Peter 2:11-12

Peter gives the church a title in verse 11. He refers to the church as foreigners and exiles. Other translations but it as strangers or aliens or pilgrims.  He is expressing the notion that as followers of Jesus Christ our citizenship is in Heaven. This world is not our home.

He is writing to Christ followers across a region who happen to be facing persecution. They are facing violent opposition to their faith. And he calls them foreigners and exiles. At first it sound harsh but in the end it is comforting: You are citizens of Heaven. This world is not your home.

We then come to the vital point in the entirety of 1 Peter. In verse 12 the church is instructed to live good lives among the pagans so that the pagans may see good deeds and glorify God. This verse summarizes all that came before it and gives weight to everything that comes after it.  As followers of Jesus Christ we should stand out and not fit in.   We should look more like Heaven rather than more like the world.  Yet, we often have trouble living this out.

At times we lean towards being rude and judgmental rather than kind and Christlike.

At times we lean towards being a closed group rather than a welcoming community.

At times we lean towards being loud and obnoxious rather than patient and prayerful.

In order to live good lives among the pagans we must follow in the steps of Jesus. We must walk so closely behind Jesus that it is as if we are covered in the dust from his sandals.

What footprints did Jesus leave in order for us to walk in?  See 1 Peter 2:13-25.

He endured insults and suffering but did not retaliate and made no threats. Rather, he entrusted himself to God who judges justly.

It’s a beautiful picture of Jesus fulfilling an ancient prophecy. Isaiah 53 speaks of a suffering servant – one who would heal the people of God. Peter connects the dots from the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 to Jesus Christ who bore our sins on the cross.

We should not seek revenge and retaliation. Rather, we should seek faith and forgiveness. 

  • We should place our faith in God not in other humans.
  • Humans will fail us. God will not.
  • We should forgive because we know that we’ve been forgiven.

We should not seek revenge and retaliation. Rather, we should seek patience and prayer.

  • We should wait on God not in other humans.
  • Humans will fail us.  God will not.
  • We should pray. Prayer for yourself and prayer for those around you will keep you from revenge and retaliation.
  • Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Follow the one who bore your sins on the cross so that you might die to sins and live for righteousness.

Follow the one who as you go astray brings you back to the fold.

Follow the one who is your Shepherd and the overseer of your soul.

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