Strangers in the New Year

By Ricky Chelette, Executive Director

“But I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” – 1 Peter 2:11

As we begin a new year the headlines are filled with news of immigrants and exiles fleeing their homelands. Each person in search of a new, safer, more secure place to live and raise a family. It is hard for me to imagine what it must be like for them. They are going to a place most have never been, with language, culture and people they do not know, to establish a new life. But these are the desperate signs of our times and not unlike those of the early church.

In 1 Peter, Peter’s admonition to Christians was not only about their physical relocation to a new land, but more profoundly, about the new creation they had become as a result of their encounter with Jesus and their belief in the Gospel.

As the new year begins, those who embrace the teachings of Jesus will become more and more “aliens and strangers” even in our own land. Titus says that God has called us to Himself and made us a “peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14 KJV). Peter says people will be “surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Pet. 4:4). We are strange people, especially to the non-Christian world. It certainly appears that no matter how much things change, in many ways, they remain the same.

The bottom line for Christians in this new year is we must embrace our “alien” and “stranger” status. We will not fit in neatly with the moral decline of those who do not know Christ as Lord. We will not be embraced or even tolerated by those who have not experienced the forgiving power of the blood of Jesus and His adoption as sons/daughters. We need to embrace the truth that this world is not our home (Phil. 3:20; Jn. 17:16). Our home is being kept by God, our Father in heaven (1 Peter 1:4-5).

So as we live as aliens and strangers in this world, let us do so in a way that shows the transforming power of the Gospel in our lives. Because our eternity is secure in Christ, we can push aside the fleshly desires of this world that are at war against our soul and live in freedom and peace. We can take risks and be bold. Christians must redouble our efforts to do good to the world, even to those who do not wish to do good to us. By doing so, may those who do not know Christ as Lord see the heart of the Father for them and find the work of Christ sufficient to cover their sin, give them peace, and provide them a home which is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:4).

There are some beautiful characteristics of aliens, strangers and exiles: They have little holding them to a place. They travel light. They can respond to things quickly. Everyday is a new adventure. They have to have great hope! As Christians, let us embrace our alien and stranger status and use it to show the glory of God to our world. Our home is secure in Him!

How are you going to live as an alien and stranger in this new year? Can people see your good works and be drawn to our Father in heaven?