In Exile

Do you ever feel like you are a foreigner in a strange land? You look around at your neighbors and the people at the local restaurants and the families traipsing about and think, We are not like them.

Maybe you think this because you see sin. Maybe because you see different priorities. Maybe because you don’t know anyone who isn’t like you.

And you’re right. You are a foreigner here if you believe the message that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection save you from an eternity separated from God.

And if you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each one’s work, live out the time of your temporary residence here  in reverence. (NETBible, 1Peter 1:17, emphasis mine)

So does that mean we should live in fear of those we feel different from? Should we leap away from their touch and jump into our holy huddle with a “Whew! That was close! That world-dweller almost got me!”

Is this what Jesus did?

Just read Luke 15 – the parables of the lost sheep, coin, and prodigal son. Jesus came to save the lost, my friends.

And He calls us to live among them and be Jesus-on-earth to them.

In Jeremiah 29, God (through Jeremiah) tells the Israelites who were exiled to Babylon to “build houses”, “plant gardens”, “settle down”, “Marry”, and “grow”. And…

Work to see that the city where I sent you as exiles enjoys peace and prosperity. Pray to the Lord for it. For as it prospers you will prosper.’ (NETBible, Jeremiah 29:7)

This is a command – WORK FOR THE PROSPERITY OF THE CITY! This really sunk in for me Monday night when Steve Hardin spoke at our Prepare 2011 event. Is there anything I’m doing that tangibly helps the prosperity of Austin, Texas? I can’t think of a thing.

Yes, of course, through our church, we do things for the prosperity of the city. But that’s not me. And it’s me who’s called.

So what kinds of things can be done?

Well, our community group has been toying with the idea of helping a family at the school we meet at. I say toying because we brought it up, talking a whole lot about it once, and then didn’t do anything much after that. We had her and her kids to one of our dinner gatherings, and many of us pitched in and helped her get her kids some things they needed for Christmas. Including milk, shoes, and clothes.

This family moves almost every month and stays with other friends because… well, there are legal issues. Brad and I talked about how we could help the mom of this family pursue what she needed to so that she had some legal status – this would lead to all sorts of other opportunities for her, particularly job opportunities, housing, and general stability for her young kids. Thankfully, there are organizations out there who know how to do this! So can’t we be a channel from one to the other? Can’t we broker that relationship and support her with transportation, phone calls, etc. along the way?

This is one small family. This could be your family, even though it’s not. Literally in exile here. Literally having no home. Literally needing the peace and prosperity of this city to welcome them in and help them contribute.

What are you going to do?