Wednesday, November 21, 2007

aliens


In the last months I've learned the inductive method of Bible study devised by Kay Arthur and Precepts Ministries. In class we went through two books - Jonah and Jude. Now that our class is over I'm on my own I've decided to work through 1 Peter this way.

If you've done this kind of study, you'll know its method is to start with careful observation of the text. At the beginning of the study, you gather material about the writer and the recipients.

This week I've been looking at the people on the receiving end of 1 Peter. Among other things, Peter calls them as "pilgrims", "sojourners" and "aliens," depending on what translation you use.

Christians today are all those things too.

We're pilgrims - wanderers, who are on a journey to a sacred place.

We're sojourners - those who stay or dwell temporarily, as foreigners taking up temporary residence.

We're aliens - not freaky-looking martian creatures (although sometimes it feels that extreme) but citizens of another country who owe our allegiance to that other place, inconsistent and incongruous with, and opposed to the place we live in, thus often feeling estranged and excluded.

I find it comforting to see this spelled out in the Bible. It makes me feel normal and understood. Because though in many ways I feel comfortable in my North American culture, in others I feel odd and know that I'll never completely fit in. Like this morning when I heard the tail-end of a local talk show where people who expect the world as we know it to end and not go on like this forever were the subject - or rather I should say, the laughingstock - of the segment.

I'm glad that I can look forward to a time and place where I will feel like a citizen, where I will fit in and where I can stay forever.

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