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Strangers & Aliens


If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.


C.S. Lewis

 

There was a man named Abram who was born about 9 generations after Noah. Abram was reportedly the first of three sons born to Terah. Terah left UR of Babylonia to go to the land of Canaan. He got as far as the city of Haran and decided to settle there with his family.


At 75 years old Abram was told by God “Leave your country, your relatives and your father’s family. Go to the land I will show you.”. Abram obeyed… the Lord further added: “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make you famous. And you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you. I will place a curse on those who harm you. And all the people on earth will be blessed through you.”


This moment in time… it was a shift for Abram. He was happy to live in UR from all accounts. It was the place his father had chosen to dwell in… but Abram made a choice. His God told him that his home was elsewhere… and he chose to obey that call and search out this new home. From this point on his life became a search for a home…


In the New Testament in a book called “Hebrews” we read this about Abram… whose name was changed to Abraham “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”


The book of Hebrews says of Abraham and others like him that...


“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”


What’s my point?


I’ve been asking myself and others this question lately… how does one maintain joy when all around us there is nothing but negativity. How do we “feel” faith when our entire culture is focused on tearing it away?


As I’ve contemplated this… I’ve been drawn into both a biblical and extra-biblical study of historical faith. What I’ve discovered in this study is that modern evangelical Christianity has developed a bit of a narcissistic personality disorder. Like Abraham we have been called to a land whose builder is God... and instead of joyfully responding to His call we have chosen to stay where we are. Our prayers are filled with requests that ask God to bring the promised land to us… right where we live.


We are rather comfortable here in this world. We have adopted it’s casual relationship with sin, we have… like Lot adopted to culture to the point where we don’t want to leave. Thinking about heaven isn’t something many Christians are comfortable with. It sounds so foreign… no marriage… no worries… living for eternity?? What’s all this? In the end we stick with what we know.


Jesus continues to knock...


“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”


Why do we struggle to find attraction to this eternal home? Why are we driven to look for joy in this temporary domain? Why are we hesitant to give our all in submission to Christ and allow Him to change our desires and aspirations to align with this eternal home?


It would seem that, like Esau… we want the blessing now… we want the comfort now.


Jesus spoke to this place that the believer would struggle with…


“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”


Then again a little later he says:


“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”


And Paul says in Philippians:


“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”

And finally Peter says “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.”


The message is so clear.


This world is not our home if we claim to follow Christ. In a sense we are waiting on the mother ship to return and take us to this home He’s prepared for us.


Do we want to go? If not why not?

As I’ve unraveled this I’ve come to realize part of the reason is not tied to our sin nature but our limited human understanding of Gods infinite and omnipresent power. Our finite three dimensional minds cannot even begin to comprehend what eternity looks like. We cannot fathom what no tears of sadness looks like. We have no concept of what no death looks like… and how are we going to deal with no marriage or sex? Our world almost revolves around sex so that is just beyond our culturally soaked minds.


This apprehension is the limited capacity of our frail minds at work. We can’t see the forest for the trees so to speak. What would true fulfillment even look like?


As I read Hebrews 10 through 12 I am drawn into this sense of joy I have been seeking. These great men and women who lived such flawed lives are listed in this book describing their great faith. The key was that they chose to live as strangers and aliens in this world. Their promise was not temporal but rather eternal.


As aliens and strangers to the world they held everything that is in this world loosely. It wasn’t coming with them to this new home.


Like our finite minds they to could not comprehend this infinite eternal power that their God possessed. This God who dwells everywhere and nowhere… whose very word formed the earth… who knew them personally… this God said that there was a new home for them.

Being fulfilled… being joyful starts with that understanding that we are simply sojourners who are passing through a foreign land.


As I write these words my own hope rises as I contemplate Gods power to achieve all that He says He will do and more.


I trust that he will fulfill me in ways I cannot even dream of soon.


In another post we may talk further on this topic of Gods Multi-Dimensional power. This power lives outside of time and space… it is incomprehensible and our task is not to comprehend it… but rather to trust an infinite God with our eternal souls through the submission of our finite minds to his purposes.


And that…


that is how we find Joy in troubled times… by trusting in a God… this Higher Being… this "IAM" who saved our souls to take us there in due season.


The Psalmist says of God “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”


And then I think of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Church:


“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”



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