We hear a lot today about refugees, people fleeing from one troubled area, often to find themselves in as much or even more trouble. The family leaving a war zone finding themselves in a camp where survival is still a fight. The person leaving their home because there is no way to earn enough just to feed their family, only to find there is no opportunity to run to. How difficult it must be to live longing for a past that won’t return and looking to a future that is still more hope than reality. You find yourself at odds with the culture you are living in, not really understanding it and not fitting in. You know you want something better, but you really can’t say exactly how that will look. You feel out of place. Well if you believe Peter that is how we are to feel.
In I Peter, Peter describes us as aliens, refugees, here. Now on one hand we may reply, “Wait, this is my home, these are my people.” But the values that we grew up with and people we live with may not always share the ideals and principles of Christ. We don’t see in scripture a view that says my rights are more important than yours. We see that we are to love others as ourselves, where compassion and grace are bigger motivators of behavior than being right. Jesus lived a life of meekness and service more than a life of pride and selfishness.
The answer for this is also found in I Peter, to not be drawn into the ideas of society that will perish with that society. We are to put aside our culture and to put on Christ. We are to desire, like newborn babies desire milk, the Word, and then grow into our salvation. We are to live to the standards of the person of Christ in our lives. Now one problem with that, like for the refugee, is that I may not know exactly what that new culture will be like. As Christians we need to be in the Word of God, honestly reflecting and praying about who we are to become. Going back to Charles Sheldon’s book, “In His Steps”, we need to ask ourselves this question, “What would Jesus do?” That may seem simplistic, and lately has become a punch line in jokes (such as what would Chuck Norris do). But when you think about it, it is a great way to think about how we should live and act in our culture.
As we studied in the book of Revelation ultimately our choices become clearer and clearer, evil is evil and righteousness is righteousness. We don’t have to be perfect, because we can’t be. We live by the grace of God, but we are also called to live the grace of God to others, even as we journey through this life.