I feel a little strange writing this article. I am sitting in the home of my in-laws in Monterrey, Mexico. Though I feel at home with my wife’s family and comfortable speaking Spanish, I am surrounded by reminders that I am not from here.
I look out the window and see mountains in every direction. People drive more “freely” in Mexico. They act differently. The food, the air, the houses are all different. As I go about the city, people suddenly stare when they realize I am a foreigner.
That must have been how it felt for Abraham when he arrived in the land of Canaan. He was a long way from the place of his birth, a city called Ur in what is today Iraq. The people of Canaan spoke and acted differently. They had different customs and different gods. It was obvious Abraham was a foreigner. It was obvious he was different.
In chapter eleven of his book, the writer to the Hebrews compares our situation as Christians here on earth to that of Abraham. Here on earth we are strangers living in a strange land. As Christians we speak a different language than our world. We act differently. It’s obvious we aren’t from here – just as it is quite obvious I am not from Mexico.
When I stay in Mexico for longer stretches of time, though, something strange happens. I start blending in. I start talking like they talk, driving like they drive, acting like they act. I stop feeling and acting like a foreigner.
How often doesn’t that happen to us as Christians? We surround ourselves with people who curse and swear – and suddenly we begin to speak their language. We begin to feel at home with the violence, sex and drinking which surround us. We begin to live as if this were our home.
That’s what happened to Abraham’s nephew Lot and their family. They began to blend in with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. They made themselves at home in this sinful world. The problem is that, like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, all the citizens of this world are destined for destruction.
Though we as Christians live in this world, we are not of it. We are but strangers here. Heaven is our home.
It’s uncomfortable at times being different. We speak a different language than our world. The citizens of this world look at us as strange. They look at us as foolish and intolerant for calling sin “sin.” It’s hard being different. We feel pressure to act more like this world – to hide the fact that we aren’t from here.
Don’t. You are a citizen of heaven. You have been washed in the blood of Jesus and forgiven of your sins. Why would you want to wallow once again in filth? You are different. Act like it. Don’t be ashamed of it.
You are a stranger living in a strange land.