When it comes to understanding where we live 1 Peter is an incredibly helpful letter. We are exiles(1v1). Just stop and think about that for a minute. This world is not our home. It’s not where we belong. We don’t share it’s ideals and values. And so we’ll be treated as such. We’ll be misunderstood and maligned. As foreigners and exiles we’ll be accused of doing wrong, o not fitting in, of not following what everyone knows is true and right.
But Peter doesn’t call on these scattered Christians to withdraw from community, or to compromise with community, or to become chameleons and stand out as little as possible, or to privatise their faith and maintain their professionalism. He calls them to live such good lives, fighting sin and doing good, that those who accuse you of wrong doing can’t deny the good they do and will, when God returns, glorify him for it.
That’s where and when we live. But I wonder if part of our problem is that we’ve forgotten that. It’s been comfortable to be a Christian in the UK for so long that we’ve forgotten we’re exiles. The law has aligned with our beliefs for so long we’ve been lulled by the lullaby of tolerance into forgetting we’re exiles, into thinking that we belong and therefore our gospel is accepted.
But reality is that we’ve simply been compromised. We’ve been living as citizens of the wrong kingdom because it’s been comfortable to do so. But we aren’t, we’re exiles, we’re called to be different. To stand out and to expect opposition and accusation for it, even when we do good. But we are to meet such opposition and accusation with even more good because of grace.
Israel were a different nation, standing out among all those around them and facing accusations, pressures and opposition because of it. Jesus and his disciples stood out even from the religious around them and faced accusations and opposition because of it. The early church stood out from those around them, living as exiles, and they faced accusation and opposition and persecution because of it. Have we forgotten where we live, when we live? That this world isn’t home? That we’re exiles, citizens of God’s kingdom but living temporarily, sojourning, here. But only until His kingdom comes.
I was reminded of that this morning. As Christians as we serve others and do good we will be accused of having hidden agenda’s, of seeking influence, of being out to get something. The question is how will we respond? Will we withdraw into a holy huddle? Will we give up doing good to avoid the discomfort of false accusations or will we keep doing good but invite people to come and see?
We need a mindset shift. We’re exiles. We’re not at home here. Our agenda is the kingdom agenda, our actions motivated by kingdom methodology and love. Our goal is to hear the Father’s well done not the world’s. And at times as we serve God, as we pursue his kingdom we will be accused, we will be slandered, we will be wronged. Will we be unbowed and unrepentant and will we still do good? Still pursue God’s kingdom? Still love those who accuse us?