living in exile

It seems that the lot of God’s people–called by God not just to be blessed, but a blessing to all on the earth–is life in exile. Israel in its unfaithfulness was scattered from the land and never again was established as an independent state until modern times. In the New Testament we see God’s people in Jesus scattered throughout the world, living out the faith everywhere, indeed commissioned by God to go everywhere with the message of the good news of God’s kingdom and grace in Jesus. We usually settle down and make ourselves at home in a secondary sense in the various nations on earth. Strictly speaking our home is in God’s kingdom come in Jesus, found today in the church. And destined in Jesus to take over the world. In the meantime we seek to live faithfully in exile maintaining our witness for Jesus.

Exile seems to be the place where God wants us. Uprooted in this or that sense, so that we never are at home anywhere except in Jesus. Our final home is in the new heaven and the new earth where righteousness will dwell in the shalom that will be lived out.

I am often disappointed, and have been more than disappointed at the outcome of my life. Not that I didn’t find a good wife, a daughter and granddaughter as well. But I find myself both misunderstood at times, as well as probably understood too well, even if I don’t get it well. I have struggled all my life to fit in. I’ve hardly ever felt like I really fit in completely anywhere.

But I’ve come to realize over the years that there is no such place on earth. That indeed we are ever changing in our thinking, and that part of God’s work in growing us up in Christ, is to help us learn to settle down and do well in strange places, occupied by people like ourselves from all sorts of different perspectives.

When misunderstood, or shunned because we have let someone down in ways we maybe don’t understand well enough, we need to humble ourselves before God, and learn to take and keep taking the lowest place. I think my enthusiasm can be misunderstood for pride. Not that I don’t have pride, there are times when I struggle over it, and I hate that! I’m certainly not above such times. And I’m not above learning a thing or two from any rebukes I might receive. By grace I’d better learn to listen well and hear God’s Spirit so that I can respond in repentance and faith in the continued transformation in Jesus.

Our call is to be faithful where we’re at, and with what God has for us to do. The call to exile in the here and now, for us God’s people in Jesus. That we might be Jesus’ witnesses before and for the world. That the works God has for us might bring glory and praise to him.

Let us consider exile and what that means for us in Jesus during this season of Lent.