A few years ago, I had the chance to go on a mission trip to a really remote village in Honduras. I was told that the villagers spoke no English, which wasn’t supposed to be a problem because we actually had a translator travel with us from the church. I could talk to the villagers fairly easily when he was around, and thus I could feel like I was fitting in.
The problem came when he wasn’t around.
There were times I would find myself alone with three or four villagers, mixing or pouring concrete for a floor, and I would try to get to know them a little bit more. The problem is that I speak drunken third grade Spanish on a good day. So it became more and more clear that I wasn’t “from round here”.
There is a discomfort that comes from being an outsider. If you don’t know what’s going on and no way to figure out what’s going on, it can be intimidating. Trying to acclimate is a daunting task when you don’t know what’s going on, or why.
There is a passage in scripture that implies that Christians are supposed to feel that way all the time.
Dear friends, since you are immigrants and strangers in the world, I urge that you avoid worldly desires that wage war against your lives. Live honorably among the unbelievers… – 1 Peter 2:11-12a
It’s easy for Christ followers to forget that we’re not home yet. We’ve gotten so comfortable in our living rooms, going to our church services, and all of the other trappings that come from our culture, that we forget we’re not really from here.
Christ followers are exiles, a people without a home. Sure, we have houses that we live in, but we’re not “home”. That place where we get to be fully ourselves. The place where we are truly free. The place where we are our most “us”.
No matter how nice your community is, it is not the full presence of God. Whether you’ve traveled the world and seen it all, or if you’ve never left your little village, you’ve never fully encountered ‘home’ as a Christ follower.
I think, in many ways, we Christ followers have forgotten that. We have tried to create a Christian culture around us, in order to feel at home. So we try to create a Christian ‘home’ around us by displaying the 10 commandments or saying prayers in school right after the pledge of allegiance. Placing these elements as cultural touchstones, however, doesn’t make us a Christian nation/state/country/city/etc. It just helps us feel like we are.
We as Christ followers, are pilgrims just passing through. We’re exiles wandering back where we came from. This world, the town you live in, is not your home.
It’s just where you’re passing through for now.
Christ followers need to remember that we ain’t from round here.