Did you know the Bible talks about legal aliens, foreigners, and exiles? It speaks very clearly about these kind of people. And probably your mind already jumped to the political debates over immigration and border security. That’s NOT what I’m talking about, and I’m not so foolish as to jump into that debate in a blog. You and I are described as legal aliens!
Yep! Those of us who follow Jesus are called “aliens.” And no, not the ones who visit from time to time from outer space that make for sci-fi documentaries and conspiracy theories. The word “alien” shows up three times in 1 Peter 1:1; 1:17 and 2:11 (depending on the Bible version it might be translated as “exiles,” “foreigners,” “strangers,” or “sojourners”).
What is an “alien.” The word used by Peter, in general, refers to one who comes from a foreign land to live side by side with the natural or indigenous residents. Modern language translates the word as “resident alien.”
A “spiritual” alien then is a follower of Jesus who lives in this world. The language, values, customs and lifestyle of this world feel foreign and unnatural to the believer. You see when we began to follow Jesus we were reborn or born anew (see 1 Peter 1:3), not as citizens of this world, but as citizens of the kingdom of God. And we realize we have the hope that this world is not our final home (see 1 Peter 1:4). We know this life is our temporary home. We live as aliens – longing for our real home where our Father and real spiritual family will spend eternity – heaven.
But for now, we live as aliens in this world. As aliens, we are different. And guess what? All through history, and yes even today, anyone who is really different is often mistrusted, disliked, excluded, treated different from the rest of the “normal” people and even persecuted by the majority. And that is true for those of us who truly follow Jesus. We are “different” from the world. Jesus said we live in the world, but we are not of the world, and that will cause us hardship (see John 15:19). It is difficult and costly to be genuinely different!
So, it is God’s will for us to be aliens! Why? God wants and needs us to be different from the world. We are to be a contrast to our culture in the ways that matter. We are to be light in the dark. We are to be salt in a flavorless world. We are to love when others hate. We are to forgive when others hold grudges. We are self-sacrificing as others are self-serving. We are to offer hope when others are skeptical, pessimistic and jaded. We are to offer good to others when others only seek good for themselves. We are to be Jesus in our world.
Starting this week, we’ll spend six weeks looking at the letter in the Bible called 1 Peter. We are calling this teaching series Contrast. We’ll see why we are to be a contrast, how to be a contrast and how to maintain being a contrast to and in a world that wants us to compromise and blend in. This is going to be a powerful life-changing and encouraging series. Our Bible reading plan has us reading 1 Peter starting Aug. 29th – you can find our Bible reading plan on our website. May I encourage you to read 1 Peter as we begin looking at this letter.