Exiles. Refugees. Immigrants. Foreigners. Who are they? What are they doing here? How should we treat them?
Maybe we are the strangers and foreigners. Maybe we are the exiles. Read Jeremiah 29. Verse 11 has long been a favorite. “I know the plans I have for you..”
The prophet Jeremiah wrote to his fellow Jews in Babylon telling them to build homes, plant gardens and eat the produce, marry, have children, give your children in marriage. In effect, settle down and get used to be in Babylon because you are going to be there for a long time. They were exiles, but still in God’s plan–still cared for by the Lord.
1 Peter 2:11 also reminds us that we are sojourners, exiles, strangers to this world. We are temporary! The difference is that we live and pray and act in such a way that we influence and change the culture and world we live in. We are not trying to escape through the rapture! We are God’s people living in a world that is often violent and bent toward the powerful, rich and privileged. We are salt and light!
God doesn’t call us to escape or bewail our predicament, but to pray for and bless the place in which we find ourselves. As our communities prosper, so do we. Selfish motive? Maybe. But God would have us know we are connected and part of this world too. We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven as well as citizens of this world. Let your heavenly citizenship show by how you conduct yourself here, by how kind, patient, good, loving, self-controlled you are.
Peace to you fellow sojourners!