“…since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:16-19 ESV).
Last Friday I wrote how we are citizens of Heaven, tourists on this planet. And while that is an accurate way to think about our time on earth, it can also be said that we are exiles. We inherited a sin nature that has been passed down from generation to generation going all of the way back to Adam, and exiling us from Heaven. Also, having been saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, we have been exiled by the world.
Sin made mankind unwelcome in heaven; and faith made us unwelcome on earth.
While through Jesus we are no longer exiles from heaven, our earthly exile continues. Like Israel, we hold on to a promise that we will one day inherit a heavenly land; and like Israel, we find ourselves on the outside looking in.
We know that our ransom has been paid. We were purchased by the precious blood of Christ. Still we wait for our redemption, the day when we are caught up with Him in the air.
Peter tells us that while we are here, we are to “conduct [ourselves] with fear.” Reverence. Respect. We should live our lives being careful to please Him who called us. For He said “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
As desirable as it might seem, fitting in has never been in the cards for us. Just as the Israelites were called to be set apart from all of the peoples they encountered, we are also called to be sanctified, set apart, for the Lord. But while the Israelites were set apart by birth, we have been set apart by faith. In essence, we chose our exile!
When we chose to follow Jesus, we surrendered our right to “fit in”. We acknowledged that which He offered us was far better than what the world could offer. The world has always valued conformity, often to the extent that non-conformity was a sentence of death. But Jesus has called us to be different. He told us that it would be a difficult, but eternally rewarding, path.
But being set apart does not mean that we don’t associate with others. Quite to the contrary, the world can only see that we are different if we are amongst them (Matthew 5:16). We are called to a higher standard.
If we spend our time in exile focused on serving Christ, and holding Him in high esteem before a world that walks in the darkness and bondage of sin, we represent our Lord as lights in the darkness. And as a moth is drawn to a flame, so people will be drawn to Him.
Have a mindful and blessed day!