To be a Christian is to choose a life of exile.
The reason is simple. If Jesus is your Savior, then you are part of the kingdom of God. This present world is no longer your home. Your home is in heaven and King Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for you – a place where righteousness reigns and suffering is no more. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil 3:20)
We tend to forget that. We live as if our citizenship is on earth. We look for happiness in stuff we can see, taste, and touch. We sacrifice our time, our money, and our moral integrity in pursuit of heaven in the here and now. We think of this present world as our home. We expect it to feel like home. And we’re “surprised” when it doesn’t live up to our expectations and we experience suffering in various forms.
Whether it shows up in the form of a severe illness, a broken relationship, or religious persecution, Christians of all people should never be surprised by suffering. After all, we’re exiles. Why should we expect a foreign land to feel like home?
Yet praise God we’re not just exiles. We’re “elect exiles” (1 Pe 1:1). God has mercifully chosen us out of the people of this world and made us part of the people of God. Though we walk a path of suffering on this side of heaven, we are not forgotten. The Father has ordained all our days for his glory and our good. We are not helpless. The Holy Spirit is working to make us more like Jesus. And we are not aimless. The Son has called us into his mission of testifying to the truth of the gospel.
Every moment of our life as exiles, especially the moment of suffering, is a divine opportunity to testify to the truth of these realities, secured for us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Word of God circles back to this truth time and time again, especially in the book of 1 Peter.
Over the next 6 months we’re going to study 1 Peter as a church family. From Sunday morning sermons to Community Group conversations, we believe God wants to teach us to embrace every difficulty as a divine opportunity to testify to the power of the gospel.
If you’re a Christian, God has given you a testimony. It’s a testimony of strength in weakness, comfort in sorrow, and purpose in suffering. It’s a testimony the world around you desperately needs to hear.