May 3, 2021
by: Gabriel Tseng

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. – 1 Peter 2:11

Sometimes when I visit my parents home, the home in which many nostalgic feelings arise, my parents sometimes leave me little trinkets, long lost from the past. Sometimes they are old pants or old shirts, but every so often, they find old baseball cards and stuffed animals I used to play with. It’s a strange thing for a melancholy like me to be overly ponderous and reflect on years past. I’ll confess, more recently, I found an old CD with music with dance music that I wanted to listen to, only to realize I don’t own any more CD players. What a world that changes right before our eyes. 

Peter’s address to a people that were struggling to live in a world now unknown to them is exactly that. They are grappling with a new reality of life in which they are now believers, yet Jesus did not rapture them out of the world, but asked them to “be in the world, but not of it.” 

A feeling of exile, of exclusion, of strangeness, being estranged in a world now, once familiar and still familiar, is completely different looking at it from a different vantage point. Like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time and being in awe of its grandness, then traveling to the other side of the big hole, only to be awed again by different wonders you couldn’t see from the other side. One one hand, they could see the beauty of their new lives in Christ, yet were confronted with the practical realities of living in same household, in the same community, but now proclaiming themselves as citizens of a new Kingdom, not of this world. 

Oh how they, we long for that world. it is tempting to look back at what we had before. Like the Israelites looking back across the Red Sea in which they had just passed through, with chariots and horses in its wake, longing to be back where it was at least predictable and comfortable. That’s in part why I came to find a family in Christ, for a comfort, a sense of belonging. Yet, we find life less unpredictable than ever and we claw and grasp for any semblance of normal. We are sheep desiring a Shepherd who will comfort us. 

But we are also now called to be exiles, and ambassadors of a different Kingdom, longing to be home and telling others that we long for a better Kingdom, not of this world. Our estranged relationship to this world is passing by, and we long to be where our Father King is. We are a people that deal with the practical reality of our moment, yet keep our eyes affixed on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, knowing that we are to hold loosely to this world and to sharpen our hunger for Kingdom desires that are not of this world. It is not so strange for this world to feel out of place, because we are a people that are of a Kingdom that is not of this world, but as long as we are here, we will proclaim the goodness of the King of our heavenly Kingdom. 

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