In my previous blog I talked about how our context in the UK is similar to that into which Peter wrote, how as Christians we feel like foreigners and exiles in our own country. This blog develops those thoughts.
When I applied for an Indian visa I was asked how I had become a British citizen. Apparently there are different ways. You can live in the UK for 5 years, be of good character, and pass a citizenship test. Or even easier, be born British. Which is how I became British many years ago.
We are foreigners and exiles because we have been born into a new homeland.
1 Peter 1 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,
We did not earn new citizenship by being of good character or passing citizenship tests but by being born again. Heaven is our new home, where our inheritance awaits.
We become strangers because we are strange – our values, lifestyle, priorities are so different from the surrounding culture. Our faith makes us strangers in our own land.
Not only strangers, but we also experience hostility.
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
It is difficult for others to understand us.
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
Our unbelieving neighbours don’t understand why we believe and what we believe. What they believe is so visible – money, sex and power are so obvious!
We shouldn’t be surprised by the situation we find ourselves in; there is nothing new under the sun! However as individuals and as a church we do need to adjust to it.
We need to shift our focus from putting on attractional events to creating attractional communities.
From the margins we point to God’s coming world and offer an alternative lifestyle, alternative values and relationships – a community which proves incredibly attractive. 1 Peter equips us to go back into the world, into our classrooms, boardrooms, factories, playgrounds, changing rooms as men and women who, like our Saviour before us, can be marginal yet truly world-changing.
Let us not pretend what goes on during our meetings on Sunday mornings is what Christianity is all about. It is what happens out in the world that is important. Sunday mornings are about equipping us, shaping us, empowering us, and encouraging us to minister in the world. God’s presence with us as we worship together but also out in the world where the real action takes place!
WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON
Tony is an Elder at Hope Church Luton and part of the Leadership team.
He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.