Sojourners and Strangers

By: Blake Hudspeth
The San Diego church was a flurry of activity, so I hadn’t quite heard what he said.
“Do what?” I asked, wanting him to say it again. The pastor grew up in southern California and stood there blinking back at me.

“Do…what,” he said the words back to himself trying to make sense of it.

“It means repeat what you just said.”

“I…don’t think it means that. Must be an Arkansas thing.”

He wasn’t wrong. The South has its own vernacular that doesn’t always translate to other places in the country. It makes us stand out when we’re far from home. In many ways, this is true of every culture.

It’s especially true in the Kingdom of God.

1 Peter 2:11-12
Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among [unbelievers], so that when they slander you as evildoers, they will observe your good works and will glorify God on the day he visits.

For millennia, citizens of Heaven have found themselves wandering among the hordes of cultures on earth. Their true citizenship not being found on a national registry but on a bloody cross and an empty tomb. It means, as a citizen of Heaven, I have far more in common with my brother in Christ over in Denmark than I do the guy from Des Arc sitting next to me at a Razorback game who cares nothing about Jesus.

And, according to Peter, accents don’t set us apart. Actions do. When we respond to someone’s anger with gentleness, when we hunger for righteousness, when we love our enemies and bless those who curse us, we speak the language of our native land.

It makes Arkansans scratch their heads and wonder why someone would do such things. It doesn’t translate to the culture they know. And as they stand there blinking trying to make sense of it, perhaps they’ll think, “Must be a Jesus thing.” Perhaps their hearts would be opened to hear the gospel message from us.

Or in Peter’s words, may you live in such a way that people around you long to move their citizenship.
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