I remember traveling through Russia and feeling like I was touring a different world. I had traveled out of the country before, but this time everything felt different – the language, laws, currency, food, and cultural norms – not to mention the tremendous time change.
Have you ever traveled to a foreign nation and felt completely out of place? It can feel disorienting.
As believers, this world is not our home. We are “sojourners and exiles” (1 Peter 2:11) who live between the times of the first and second comings of Christ. Theologians refer to the “already/not yet” aspect of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus inaugurated His kingdom reign in rising victoriously over the grave, and yet we await a day when death is no more. Jesus freed us from the penalty of sin, and yet we await a time when we will be freed from the very presence of sin. Jesus reigns in heaven, and yet we await His kingdom reign on earth.
As we await the future fulfillment of God’s promises, we are called to live with biblical values and convictions that appear strange to our unbelieving neighbors. How we spend our time, where we look for entertainment, how we invest our money, and what we choose to celebrate (or not celebrate) invite questions and sometimes scorn from those who don’t share our beliefs. To this, Peter says, “With respect to this they [unbelievers] are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Peter 4:4).
As God’s people, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9), we should “not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon [us] to test [us], as though something strange were happening to [us]. But rejoice insofar as [we] share Christ’s sufferings, that [we] may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
I’m reminded of a scene in John Bunyan’s book, Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan uses allegory to speak of a man named Christian and his friend, Faithful, who enter into a city called Vanity Fair. While in the city, the pair faces opposition and ridicule because of their clothes, speech, and values. Eventually, they are indicted and placed on trial for living out their faith. Bunyan’s observations speak as much to our day as they did when he wrote his book from a prison cell in 1678. This world is not our home, and those who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will face opposition.
Peter’s and Bunyan’s writings both beg the question whether our lives truly do look different to a watching world, and if not, why not? If we are not experiencing a “jet lag” of sorts between where we are today and our future home, then we need to reevaluate our beliefs and values. Our internal “body clock” should feel out of sync with the rest of the world’s.
In our new Sunday morning message series on 1 Peter, we will discuss what it looks like to live out our faith in the midst of a culture that has grown increasingly hostile to the gospel. We will examine what it looks like to live faithfully “as sojourners and exiles” in this world and how to “keep [our] conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against [us] as evildoers, they may see [our] good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).
My prayer is that, regardless of your circumstances today, you will experience the living hope of Christ (1 Peter 1:3) so that what Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:8 is true of you today: “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.”
See you Sunday,
Helpful resources for studying 1 Peter: