“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.” (Hebrews 11:13 ESV)
“And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,” (1 Peter 1:17 ESV)
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11 ESV)
It was cold this morning and I didn’t want to get out of bed where the electric blanket and the cat had kept me warm all night.
Still, I had to take T to work so I rose and got ready to go.
I went to warm up the truck…and the heater fan ceased to function.
It’s going to be a cold winter…
This made me angry at God as I already had a list of broken things I can’t afford to fix…but at least I’d been warm.
It was the last straw when I already had a bale of last straws.
If God were good, if God loved me, if God heard prayer, then surely all these things would be made better.
Then I remembered that life in exile is rarely comfortable.
I would submit that the truth that we are living as aliens and exiles in a country not our own is the least understood, least preached about, and least popular concept in Western Christendom.
The truth that the kingdom is here, but not yet, that taste of what will be, drives us to attempt to make our place of exile our real home.
It compels us to pretend that we can forgo living as exiles because we can convert where God has placed us into the place where God has us going.
In doing so we compromise our purpose and lose our true identity.
The kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world are in conflict and that conflict will not be resolved until our kingdom has come in its fullness.
Following Jesus will always put you at odds with earthly powers.
““Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34–39 ESV)
You will rarely be comfortable…and you may die waiting for the promises to be fulfilled.
They are still true.
Thanks for the timely reminder, Michael, while I’m sitting here hating my medically restricted activities…..
I hear you…and I’m praying for as much healing for you as possible in this age.
Thank you, Michael, and likewise for you.
How are you doing?
I’m in that limbo where you’re too sick to do much and not sick enough for surgery yet.
You know the drill.
Sometimes I have to write this stuff so I’m forced to defend it… 🙂
“You will rarely be comfortable…and you may die waiting for the promises to be fulfilled.”
The ungodly will be uncomfortable, but faith in Christ rises above and beyond temporal troubles to the promises of our Savior. Thus He exhorts:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
If you are anxious or troubled about our circumstances, then lament to your Father in heaven in the name of Jesus. He is with you and will deliver you.
“If you are anxious or troubled about our circumstances, then lament to your Father in heaven in the name of Jesus. He is with you and will deliver you.”
Maybe, maybe not.
“Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
(Hebrews 11:35–38 ESV)
(*sigh*) yes, I do…
Although, with my previous surgery I got lucky…. the size of my aneurysm was larger than the cutoff at the time. A few months afterwards, they raised it.
Good thing you don’t have to like it to defend it…
Exile is a subject that has captured me lately and I wrote a little bit privately about it. Your use of exile intrigues me. It is more akin to Israel in Egypt than Israel in Babylon. Egypt was refuge that turned to slavery. Babylon was slavery from the beginning. We are exiles in the sense that we are not home but we are mostly unaware of our slavery. Salvation brings us out of slavery in a moral sense. We fail to note that our return is not yet complete. Like Israel we have made our peace with Babylon and are not that eager to go home.
Exile however is a common experience and a commonly self-imposed experience. In scripture exile is the apocalypse of sin. We forfeit the rights of home by our behavior. Every culture practices exile as a form of discipline and for the common good. Those who endanger the others are imprisoned. Families exile members who destroy the family codes of behavior. Furthermore, we exile ourselves by offense or by depression or by shame. Family members commonly disappear from for long periods of time while time erodes the passions of anger and fear.
Offended church members separate themselves from the body for a myriad of reasons some valid and others wildly exaggerated.
Exile is an experience of hell. The good news is that God has promised to get us safely home. Many of us are in exiles of our own construction. Let’s go home.
Michael, those are not “maybe not.” All of them were delivered into the arms of God. They were delivered. Their hope was not in things that rot, rust or that thieves come for and steal, but their hope was in imperishable treasures. Isn’t that the real point behind living in exile?
Man scrimps, steals and kills, yet never has enough, because he knows nothing but this life in the passing age. Yet he lives in perpetual discomfort because he knows not his hour of death and all his scrimping cannot guarantee another hour or real peace.
“-of whom the world was not worthy-”
I wonder if they actually felt that way at the time?
I hate it. 🙂
But the converse side is that I could only worship a suffering Savior…and we have one…
Michael, that’s gold. I’ll be using that for a long time.
“Salvation brings us out of slavery in a moral sense. We fail to note that our return is not yet complete. Like Israel we have made our peace with Babylon and are not that eager to go home.”
Indeed…I will leave my political commentary for a later date…
“Like Israel we have made our peace with Babylon and are not that eager to go home.
Exile however is a common experience and a commonly self-imposed experience.”
BD, could you clarify your meaning here? Because at first reading this really gets my back up…
Thank you…it’s what keeps me relatively sane and moving slowly forward…
Lots of people leave the family unit, the church, the social circle, or even culture in general. They are sometimes depressed, sometimes ashamed, sometimes angry and sometimes afraid. People send themselves into exile. They go away. Others cause themselves to be sent into exile by their violence, unruly behavior, or disruptiveness.
Exile is not generally a victim state.
I am of course using this imagery differently than Michael’s original post. I owned that in my first paragraph. Our exile on earth is our mission status. We have been sent. The Hebrews 11 crowd were intentional their faith was related to calling.
Why does that imagery incite reaction?
Well put, Michael!
It is both good and healthy to be reminded often that we are mere sojourners here–not permanent residents. Sometimes I have to pull myself back from the issues of the day and remember that. Because it is a journey fraught with suffering for so many of us, we should seek to encourage one another so that, together, we can all make it across the finish line. I have seen consistent testimony here that you have provided much encouragement to a great many of the suffering brethren. May God bless you in return for your willingness to help them.
There is nothing wrong with hating what the world and our dying flesh throw at us. I don’t think the exhortation to count it a joy to suffer in this life was intended to convey that it is pleasant to suffer…
To take it a step further, when one has the loving heart of a shepherd there are few trials as heartbreaking as finding oneself unable to fulfill that role… then the joy of the Lord is what makes life possible… that inexplicable mystery of undergirding joy that makes no sense to those outside the Church
Thank you, JM!
Thanks BD for the explanation, I probably shouldn’t be trying to get into such topics when there are other household distractions….
I was mainly bristling at the “self-imposed” idea, and obviously taking it too personally.
I see the distinction now.
Michael–I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. You deserve the “THANK YOU”! You have provided a forum that has made a very real difference in so many lives–including mine. I know that probably not everything I post is completely understandable or agreed with–but you very kindly allow me to get my thoughts out there. What a gift! There are no words that can adequately express the depth of gratitude for just that simple act. I say again–Thank YOU! We always pray you will get better.
That’s very kind of you.
We all are in this together…we’re all glad you’re here.
Good words on this thread……
I’ll add that sometimes commiseration is also support.
“It is both good and healthy to be reminded often that we are mere sojourners here–not permanent residents.”
I was reflecting on how this has totally flipped in the last 50 years in Christendom.
When I was a young Baptist believer, I’d listen to the local Xn radio station. Most of the
shows had to do with eternity, eternal rewards awaiting us, etc. It was almost kind of dreamy, but as a new teen believer, the shows and music were a comfort to me.
Now, churches are falling all over themselves to be “relevant.” You’ve got one
prominent pastor who’s even proposing scotching the OT presumably because of all its requirements.
Flip Wilson nailed it (I think it was on Laugh-In) with his “Church of What’s Happenin’ Now.” 🙂
I tried to teach this concept to high schoolers and junior highers at church and it wasn’t really encouraged. The “coddling of the American [Christian youth] mind” – to borrow from someone a lot smarter than me – needs to be erased. As I watch children trudge through their adolescent school years I wonder if creating a stage of youth called “adolescence” was really the best move…
May we all be in exile until our Savior returns…
for the right reasons :-/
I can own the ‘self-imposed’ label from BD’s comments. I withdrew from active church life/attendance after a life-time of consistent attendance, participation, and service. I don’t think I’ve ever sought pity or special considerations for that status. I think the Babylon/Egypt distinction is worth further consideration and recognize, too, that it is a somewhat different angle than what Michael presented. Lots to weigh and contemplate…
Thank you for this very timely reminder. I hope to share this with my mom who is really struggling with “fairness”. My dad has been in a wheelchair since he was 20 years old and has progressed over the years. He was once a paraplegic with many dreams still in tact and today, due to his aging body and loss of feeling, he is a quadriplegic who can no longer drive or get in and out of bed. Today, after a surgery to clean out his six bed sores, his dr. Told him that he doubts his right leg will ever heal as it’s down to the bone. He told my dad he will likely need to get his legs amputate. While my dad is in shock, my mom is taking it very hard. She is a longtime believer but struggles with taking God at His word and for who He is. It’s times like these that she so needs to remember that this is not our home. No, life is not “fair”. But we have a Just King who will make it all right in the kingdom to come.
Rocksy, what a test your folks have had… will be praying for them with you
We are in exile, whether we admit it or not.
Maybe the question remains, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”
I think it is what a number of us are questioning these day…
My heart goes out to you and your family.
I struggle with resolving the tensions between having a loving, omnipotent God and the increasing afflictions of life as well.
I have had to change my concept of what it means to take God at His word.
It may be helpful to direct your mom to the Psalms of lamentation…if you need a list let me know.
She needs to be able to express her heart to God and those Psalms can be helpful in doing so.