- Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19 NKJV)
- Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11NKJV)
Christians are no longer strangers and foreigners, but we are sojourners and pilgrims. Aren’t these basically the same thing? Yes they are (you could add exiles and aliens here too, depending on your translation).
The solution to this is that on the one hand, we who were alienated from God and from God’s people are now adopted into His family by grace through faith in Christ. On the other hand, we are now no longer at home with this world. It is now our enemy, waging war against our flesh. We are in the world, but not of the world. Do not love the world or the things in the world John tells us (1 John 2:15).
If we are living for Christ, we won’t fit with the world. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:3-5).
How are we doing as we seek to stand out for Christ? Righteous indignation and non-participation in the world has its place. It will not do, however, to be merely reactionary and miss opportunities to build relationships and share Christ. When it comes to participation in things of this world, are we in or are we out? Well, that depends on many factors.
Illustrations of this are countless, and they will elicit a groan from long-time Christians who have discussed these things ad nauseam in Bible studies and Sunday School classes: alcohol, movies, company Christmas parties, meeting neighbors at the pub, consumer items (can Christians drive a BMW?), the list goes on and on.
But back to the main point of this post: How do unbelievers perceive us? Do we fit in just fine? If so, we should be concerned. Are we accepted, yet considered a bit weird? That’s not so bad. I’m afraid that many of us aren’t close enough to any unbelievers to know what they think about us.
That, perhaps, is the biggest problem of all.