“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” - 1 Peter 1:1
Our Identity as Ordinary Christians
In order to give the churches hope in the midst of their cultural and social suffering, Peter reminds them of their identity. He calls them elect exiles. I love this little phrase. It is like calling them chosen foreigners. Or purchased travelers. Or adopted refugees.
As followers of Christ, this is our identity. We are elect exiles in this world. This means that we are God’s chosen people who live for another home. God, in his lavish love through the gospel, has chosen us before the foundation of the world and adopted us to be his children (Eph. 1:4-6).
This idea of being an exile, or a foreigner, means that we are away from home. It would be easy to read this and think that Peter is talking to Christians who are actually displaced from their home country, but he isn’t. He is using the word metaphorically to help them understand that as Christians, this earth is not our home. Heaven is our home. Being with Christ forever is home. This is a temporary dwelling place for us. We are like travelers here. We are just passing through.
Listen to how Paul talks about being in heaven with Christ.
“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” – 2 Cor. 5:8
Talk With an Accent
If you are from the deep south of Mississippi and you travel into New England, people will know that you are from Mississippi. Your accent will give you away. You will get strange looks from others as you reply with “yes ma’am” and “yes sir.” People will immediately know that you are a long way from home.
As Christians, we should speak with the language of home—heaven. We belong to Jesus, so our accent of heaven should give us away. Our lives, passions, words, kindness, and love should make people say, “You are not like us. Where are you from?” To which we respond, “I belong to Jesus and I live for my eternal home with him.”
When my family and I go away on a week-long trip, no matter how much I enjoy it, there is a part of me that longs to finally get back home. I long to sleep in my own bed. I want to make my own sweet tea. I want to have my slow, coffee-filled morning routine back. As an ordinary Christian, this life as an exile on earth should make us long for our real home. And to be home with Christ is far better (Phil. 1:23).
Gospel Hope for Ordinary Christians
The reality is that because of our sin, we gravitate toward loving the world and the desires of this world, when this is not our home. Every single person wakes up in the morning with a natural bent toward loving this temporary world. We need to daily preach to ourselves the gospel, in which Jesus purchased for us our true identity. Now, there is no condemnation for us as we stumble to live for heaven (Rom. 8:1). This is good news!
As ordinary Christians, let us live to point others to the joy-filled, eternal life found only in Christ. Every day, Christ has sent you into your places of work, school, and neighborhood as exiles from another home. We are to live in these temporary places to be passionate in doing good in order to bring the light of Christ to those we encounter (Jer. 29:7).
Be encouraged by your identity today. In Christ, you are God’s chosen people who live for another home. Own it. Find strength in it. Be glad in it. Hope in it. On this earth, you are just passing through.
Scripture for further mediation: Phil. 3:20-21