The immigration issue I want to bring to your attention is not one you’ll read about in the news. I doubt they’d have any interest in covering it. It has been articulated in this way: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). He also speaks of this as “the time of your stay on earth” (1 Pet. 1:17). But the dilemma existed before the first century church was established. Old Testament heroes of faith “confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).
One of the hardest things for us to do is to live with conviction the idea that “this world is not our home, we’re just passing through.” As Jesus prayed for us and all His followers, He even touches on the inevitability that we must be here on this earth (John 17:15), but it is so easy for us to forget our status. Too often, we become naturalized citizens of this world by virtue of our conforming to its values, worldview, philosophy, and goals. When that happens, we may gain its wholehearted acceptance but we renounce our heavenly citizenship in the process.
The issue for us is how to be in the world but not of it. Paul familiarized himself with the culture, icons, and activities of his time, and he used that information to reach people in that culture with the saving message of Christ. It was a means to an end, not the end itself. For us, achieving that balance can be difficult. As we become informed and interested in sports, politics, entertainment, and various media, does it become so much a part of us that it distracts us and replaces our longing for the Father’s will (Luke 22:42) and the Father’s house (John 14:1-4)? In a materialistic culture like ours, we can become so enamored with earthly treasure that we fail or cease laying up treasure where we should be (Mat. 6:19-21).
Let’s encourage each other as fellow aliens and exiles to understand what Paul said, that “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). We must set our mind on things above, not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:2). That is the issue for us.