Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. 1 Peter 1:1-2
Everything about us was different. Our clothes, skin color, language, lifestyle, and life experiences were a world apart from those living in cardboard and sheet metal shanties, lined side by side, in the sprawling Mathare slums of Nairobi, Kenya. As we walked through the slums, on a narrow dirt path littered with garbage, trying to avoid the mud and puddles of stagnant water, we looked, talked, and felt like "strangers."
Those of us called by God, bought with the blood of Christ, and set apart by the Holy Spirit, can get a little too comfortable with this world, can't we? We become settlers instead of strangers, surrounding ourselves with the necessities of life, obsessed with the now, and putting the eternal out of our minds. The world becomes our home and heaven, well ... it's a nice thought to talk about when loved ones die and go to a "better place."
In his letter to "God's elect, strangers in the world" the apostle Peter calls us to the life of a sojourner, headed for heaven, just passing through town on our way. That focus makes us look, talk, and feel differently. Not polyester-leisure-suit-standing-on-the-corner-telling-people-to-turn-or-burn different, but lives that demonstrate the living hope of God's presence. So, as for me, I am trying to capture the Mathare "stranger" feeling each day and not get too comfortable with this short stint on earth.
Father, may I hold the uncertain things of this earth loosely and the certainty of heaven with a firm grasp. Help me to demonstrate the living hope within me. In Jesus' name. Amen.