Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers in this world to abstain from the sensual urges that wage war against the soul. (1 Peter 2:11 AMP)
When I hear the word “alien,” I tend to think of the movie E.T. and images of small, green, extraterrestrial creatures with antennae coming out of their oversized heads, but that’s not what I’m talking about today. Theologians Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon authored the book Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, which discussed the nature of the church and its relationship to the surrounding culture. The authors made the point that, as followers of Jesus, we live as “resident aliens” in this world, an idea that is entirely consistent with the God-breathed truth presented in Peter’s epistle.
As Christ-followers, we are still living in this world, but we are no longer of this world. We have been transferred from one dominion to another. We have become resident aliens in the surrounding culture. At times, we may feel disoriented and displaced, even though we are still living in the same place we have inhabited for years. That is because we no longer are what we once were. We are new creations in Christ, living for a new Master who has given us marching orders that will, more often than not, direct us to move in the opposite direction from the culture in which we live. In Christ, we have been set free from the bondage to sin, Satan, and death, but we are not yet home. We are living in a land that is not yet ours. We are “aliens and strangers,” as Peter put it.
One day, this land will be ours. When Jesus returns, He will establish the new heavens and the new earth, where we will rule and reign with Him forever and ever. But until then, we must remember that this place is not our home. And yet, at the same time, we Christians have been commanded to make an eternal difference in this world by being eternally different from this world. We are to seek the peace and prosperity of this current culture as we cultivate and care for it, all for the glory of God.
Remember, “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) — not the evil systems of this world, but the beautiful world He created and pronounced to be very good. We are to love the world by holding the inherent goodness of the world God created in tension with the corruption Adam and Eve brought into it by their sinful rebellion. In short, we must live as citizens of two kingdoms. When we are living for the glory of the kingdom of God, we will be living in a way that brings great good to the kingdom of man.
May this be the confession of our lives as aliens and strangers in this fallen world.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!