The Inside Column 2/7

Posted in: The Inside Column- Jul 03, 2017 No Comments

Good morning and welcome to St Barnabas Stoke. If you are visiting today we hope you encounter God’s almighty grace for you and loving presence as you join us in worship. Please feel free to chat with us afterwards over a coffee and meet some of our people.

I have been thinking – What it means to keep oneself from being polluted by the world? As Jesus says to his disciples: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (John 17:15-19)

As Christians we are called to be different from the world around us. The Christian is a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). Philippi was a Roman colony and the Philippians were Roman citizens. They spoke the Roman language, wore Roman dress and followed Roman customs; their magistrates had Roman titles and they conducted the same ceremonies as in Rome. They were intensely proud of their privileges which were those of Rome itself. Paul uses this analogy… Our true citizenship is now in heaven. We are a Christian colony on earth.

God’s people have always been ‘aliens and strangers’ in this world. Abraham said, ‘I am an alien and a stranger’ (Genesis 23:4). David said, ‘we are aliens and strangers’ (1 Chronicles 29:15). The psalmist said, ‘For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my ancestors were’ (Psalm 39:12b).

The writer of Hebrews says about the great men and women of the Old Testament, ‘they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them’ (Hebrews 11:13b-16).

 The apostle Peter writes, ‘live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. … I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul’ (1 Peter 1:17, 2:11).

 In our day what does it mean for us to be aliens and strangers on earth? Are our lives lived any different to those that don’t believe? These questions are easier to ask than they are to answer. We all need to ask ourselves “Are we any different?”. I have found it’s in the small things, the small decisions I make every day, that change the way I act. They form my world view, and shape who I am. My prayer then is the Lord keep working in me, keep shaping my life, that I might as Jesus says “Be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”

Yours in Christ

Phil

 

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