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Faithfulness in Exile

Charlie Boyd - 2/3/2019

Peter is writing to his Christian friends who are beginning to experience the first waves of a huge storm of suffering and persecution will come crashing against the church. They are not being arrested and put in prison. They aren’t being fed to lions, that’s coming later, but they are being shamed and slandered and scorned because of their faith in Jesus. They’re being falsely accused of all kinds of things because of their beliefs and values. And all this affected how they were able to relate to their family and friends who were not Christ-followers. It impacted their jobs and their ability to do business. Essentially, they were being marginalized and ostracized from all social life. They were literally: exiles, strangers, aliens, sojourners, outcasts, refugees in their own land. Of course, as Christians, they were and we are exiles in a more profound sense. This world–this country–is and has never been “home” for God’s people. As the Scriptures tell us, our true home is the New Heavens and Earth that Jesus will usher in on the Final Day.

That mindset is very much needed today. For much of our country’s history, Christianity shaped much of American life. Not that everyone was a Christian, but Christianity was sort of the “favored” religion and Christians felt “at home” in the culture.

Twenty-five/thirty years ago, "secular culture”—(and by that I mean the “elite framework that drives the culture”—media, Hollywood, pretty much all public education)—the “elite framework that was driving our culture” was simply disinterested in us. But now, there’s a growing majority of people that despise us. It’s not just that our beliefs and values are considered wrong. They are now considered dangerous. Christians are maligned as “dangerous bigots” and hate-mongers. As a result, we have no voice in the growing majority elite culture that we find ourselves exiled within. The minute we try to “take a stand” as a Christian, we are completely dismissed and there is no apologetic for our views that we can offer that’s convincing. Like it or not, we are living as exiles in a post-Christian society. Following Jesus in our country today is learning the way of the exile.

So the question is: How do we live as exiles in a society that’s rejected our beliefs and values? What does “faithfulness” look like for the exile church today? How do we raise our kids and grandkids in a world that will be much more hostile to their faith than the world we grew up in? Fortunately, the Scriptures are not silent on this issue. Here’s how the apostle Peter counsels the Christian exiles of his day.