Peter is writing to Gentile believers from the very lands he talks about. His original readers were probably born and raised in those lands, yet he refers to them as resident aliens because he wants to remind them of their essential identity as followers of Jesus Christ. This means that if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, you are an alien.
On one hand, this means that this world is not our home; we are, in fact, citizens of Heaven. We carry out our calling as we live in this fallen world, but our hopes and our future ultimately go beyond the hopes of this twisted, sin-filled world. Whatever difficulties and hardships we may face, they are temporary. “Momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Paul isn’t saying that his hardships were easy and short-lived. In that same passage, he describes himself as afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). The greatness of what God has prepared for us makes whatever we might undergo seem trivial, no matter how painful our circumstances may be. We can have hope in the hardship.
The world is in revolt against God. Its rejection of God was most fully expressed in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to recognize that this world in which we live is enemy territory. Just as the world set itself against Jesus, so it sets itself against those who obey him.. We follow a different master — who manifests grace, humility, sacrifice, and constant love — as opposed to the masters of money, sex, or self that ruled us before God’s redemptive act transferred us from the kingdom of darkness to Jesus’ kingdom.
God was determined to provide Jesus as your redeemer. He sovereignly chose to love you. He gave his Son for your sake so that you might be saved. You may be a stranger or an ‘alien’ in this world, but you are not a stranger before God. That is your assurance in difficult times.
According to Peter, we were chosen “to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood.” We are called to live in whole-hearted submission and obedience to Jesus Christ. Obedience is not a substitute for faith; it is the proof that we have genuine faith in the saving and sanctifying work of Jesus Christ.
Father, teach us to be ever homesick for Heaven. It is only as our affections and priorities are properly focused on your eternal values that we will be able to properly fulfill the earthly responsibilities to which you call us. Fill us with your Spirit and teach us to daily walk in dependance on him so that we lead people to hope in Jesus as your Spirit transforms our character and our relationships. Teach us to adorn the gospel at all times as we seek the common good and foreshadow the new creation at work, at home, in the church, and in our community. Amen.
Throughout This Day: There is a very real danger that we would “go native” or become so friendly with the world that we are captivated by its values and attitudes and essentially deny our identity as children of God. As you go through your day today, ask the Spirit to rekindle your love for God so that “the things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
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