Tuesday, November 02, 2021

"As Foreigners and Exiles" [Matt's Messages]

“As Foreigners And Exiles”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
October 31, 2021 :: 1 Peter 2:11-12

I’m beginning to believe that the Apostle Peter is serious about wanting us to think of ourselves as outsiders.

How about you?

A major theme of Peter’s letter so far has been that he wants his readers to think of themselves, to consider themselves, as outsiders, as displaced persons, as visitors, as temporary residents who are not in their homeland.

Or as he says in verse 11, “As Foreigners And Exiles.”

The Greek words that Peter actually used are as “paroikous [and] parepidaymous.”

The 1984 NIV chose the words “aliens and strangers in the world,” which kind of sounds like something out of Doctor Who or Star Wars or E.T. or Mork from Ork.

So the updated NIV has “foreigners and exiles.” 
The CSB has “strangers and exiles.”
The ESV has “sojourners and exiles.”
King James, “strangers and pilgims.”

You get the picture?

paroikous [and] parepidaymous.”

Peter has used both of these words already in his letter.

The first word was in chapter 1, verse 17.

And the second word he used in the very first verse, chapter 1, verse 1 when he called us, “God’s elect, strangers in the world [parepidaymois].

Are you beginning to think with me that the Apostle Peter is serious about wanting us to consider ourselves as outsiders?

To not get too comfortable where we are.

He actually says that he “urges” us to think of ourselves this way.

Now, Peter’s first readers may have actually been foreigners and may have actually been in exile from somewhere, either Israel or Rome. 

But Peter wants them to lean into that identity. To not just be foreigners and exiles physically but spiritually.

Our King Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world. And we are supposed to  be citizens of His kingdom, so we are not supposed to think of ourselves as primarily from this world.

We live here. But we’re not from here.

We’re just visitors.
We’re pilgrims.
We’re sojourners.

We’re a lot like Abraham in this respect.

Remember Abraham, in the book of Genesis? In one sense, the promised land was going to be ultimately his, but when he actually lived there, it never was.

In fact, in Genesis 34, when he wanted to buy a burial plot to bury his wife Sarah, he said this to the Hittites he was trying to buy it off of:

Abraham said, “I am an alien and a stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”

Guess which words are used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament that we call the Septuagint?

“I am a paroikos and a parepidaymos.”

I’m not from here.
This is not my home.
I’m a foreigner here.
I’m an outsider.
I’m a resident alien.

My mother-in-law was a resident alien of Canada. When she was living, I loved to poke fun of her as an “alien.” She was born in the U.S.A, but she married and moved to Canada without ever becoming a full citizen of Canada.

She was a resident alien. She was a foreigner, living there permanently until she died, but still a kind of outsider.

That’s kind of the idea of how Peter wants us to think about ourselves.

How are you doing at thinking of yourself in this way?

It’s kind of uncomfortable, isn’t it?

There’s a lot about being a foreigner that is uncomfortable.

Do you feel sometimes like you don’t quite fit in?

I think that this is a really helpful concept when you see, for example, where our culture is headed. Our society. In our nation. In the West.

There are things going on in our culture that make me feel uncomfortable, unsettled, different.

And Peter says, “Good. That’s good. Lean into that feeling. Remember that that’s true. That’s the way it actually is. Don’t get too comfortable.”

Remember you’re a foreigner.
Remember you’re an exile.
Remember you’re a sojourner, an outsider.

You shouldn’t be just like the people around you practicing all of the same customs, having all of the same values.

You should stand out as different.

You should not just fit in.

That’s not easy.

Our tendency is to conform.

Especially if there is social pressure on us to conform.

To act like the people around us. 
To do the exact same things they do.
To care about the exact same things they do.
To talk the exact same way they do.

And it gets worse if the social pressure gets worse and actually becomes persecution.

That’s what Peter’s readers were feeling. They were feeling the heat.

And Peter says, “That’s right. Lean into that. Never forget that you are foreigners and exiles.”

That’s not easy, but there is one other thing that he says in verse 11 before he calls us “foreigners and exiles” that makes it all possible and all right.

He calls us...“beloved.” Verse 11 again.

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world...]”

The word translated “dear friends” in the Greek is “agapaytoi.” Which we have studied together in years before.

You hear the word “agapay” in there? Love?

This is the word “beloved.”

And, I don’t think it’s just Peter that loves these folks.

These precious people, these foreigners, these exiles while living very uncomfortably are also very much loved by God.

They are beloved.

So let me ask you: Do you have a privileged status?

Well, in a sense, no. We can expect trouble. Trouble in whatever society we are found in. Trouble in whatever neighborhood we are found in. Trouble in whatever country we are found in. Trouble in whatever political party we are found in. Trouble in whatever natural family we are found in.

We are always going to outsiders to some extent, as followers of Jesus Christ, and that will spell trouble. We will encounter opposition, hostility, and uncomfortability.

But do we have a privileged status?

Oh yes we do! Because we are beloved citizens of a different homeland!

Remember what Peter just said to them in the sentences right above this one. Verses 9 and 10, where he told them they are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation [not America, the Church], a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends..."

“Beloved!” That’s who you are.

You are beloved foreigners and beloved exiles.

Never forget it.

And always live like it.

So, if that’s true, if that’s how we’re supposed to think of ourselves, then how are we actually supposed to live?

How do we stand out? 

Because in some ways we’re not supposed to stand out.

In many ways, we will look and act like the people around us. Jesus did!

It’s not like we’re supposed to try to be offensive or different for different’s sake.

Remember Jesus said that we are supposed to be in the world, just not of it.

So what does Peter say that we should do?

Two things:

Fight Your Bad Desires And Live a Beautiful Life.

Let’s look at them one at a time. Verse 11 once again.

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”

Peter says that you are going to have desires, wants that are his word is actually something like “fleshly” but it doesn’t just mean physical, it means base or evil or natural.

You’re going to have desires to do bad things (according to God’s reckoning of what is bad). Don’t give in!

Abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your soul.

In other words, there’s a war going on inside of you.

Don’t just do what comes naturally.

Fight back!


And fight back as a beloved foreigner as a beloved exile.

The world around is going to say, “You do you!”

Right? And there’s nothing wrong with that when the you there is a holy you.

It’s okay to be different.

But don’t just do what comes naturally. 

Don’t just do you. Do the new you.

Or as Peter has already said to us, “Be holy in all you do.”

Let me give you some f’rinstances.

Everybody else at work pads their expense account, do you?

If everyone at school uses the Lord's precious name as a swear word, do you?

You’re probably tempted to sometimes.

If all of your friends spend all of their discretionary money on a bigger and better vehicle each year. Do you? It sure looks good.

The discussion around the water cooler (do they have those any more?) is gossip, talking about people, or dirty jokes, do you laugh? Do you spread some, too?

Your buddies say that revenge is sweet, and that you are justified in bitterly not speaking to her ever again. Do you reconcile with and forgive her?

Your friends stay up late on Saturday nights watching stupidity on television or wasting time on the social media so that they are too tired to worship God with the full glad heart He deserves. Do you do the same? Or are you in bed by ten on Saturday nights to be ready for worship with freshness?

The people around you are spreading outrage and shame and lies and fear on social media. And you are tempted (oh so tempted) to press like or angry face or share it yourself.

Fight your bad desires.

As a beloved foreigner, as a beloved exile.

Is that going to get you in trouble?

Yes, sometimes, it will.

You will be accused of being a goodie-two-shoes. 
You will be excluded from the best seats in some clubs.
You will not race to the top in some social settings.
You will encounter hostility. 

Sometimes you won’t. Sometimes the world will respect the stands you take. Sometimes the values of the kingdom are appreciated even by those not in the kingdom, but often we will go against the grain.

And it will get hard.

This letter is going to get hard. 

Because we’re foreigners. We’re exiles. We’re outsiders.

We’re not from around here.

But we are loved. And so we can say, “No to the sinful desires that wage war against our souls.”

You can say, “No!”

You can say, “No” to porn.
You can say, “No” lust.
You can say, “No” to racism.
You can say, “No” to gossip.
You can say, “No” to “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” I just pulled those from Galatians chapter 5.

Those things come naturally, but we don’t have to do them.

You can win this war.

Fight your bad desires.

#2. LIVE YOUR BEAUTIFUL LIFE. That’s verse 12.

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

The word there for good which is in there twice is “kalos,” and it means good, but not just good in the sense of right instead of wrong. It means good in the sense of praiseworthy and beautiful. Some translations have “honorable.”

The dictionary says that it could be translated, “fitting, proper, fine, precious, beautiful.”

Beautiful conduct, beautiful deeds.

As foreigners! As exiles!

We’re supposed live our lives, Peter says, “among the pagans” among our unbelieving neighbors (as foreigners) in such a way that even though they malign us, even though they get hostile towards us, they still see our beautiful deeds, and it makes a difference!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I kind of balk at the idea of living a beautiful life so that the people around me can see my good deeds.

I thought I was supposed to not show off what a good person I am?!

That’s true.

The focus needs to constantly shift off of us and onto our Savior.

But we are supposed to shine!

Remember what our King said in the Sermon on the Mount? Matthew chapter 5? I think that Peter is reflecting it here.

King Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

Same word for good there. “Beautiful deeds.”


We fight the war against our evil desires internally.

And then externally, we live out our good deeds before the watching world.

Like what?

Well, if we kept going in Galatians 5, the list would include, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” That’s the fruit of the Spirit, and it sounds beautiful to me.

Let me give you some f’rinstances for this one:

Sacrifice something for someone.
Help someone.
Pray for someone.
Pray with someone.
Minister to someone at work.
Do your job really really well when no one is looking!
Call someone to encourage them.
Keep your promises.
Forgive someone.
Apologize to someone.
Stand up for someone who is being picked on or talked about.

There’s a million ways to shine.

And it will stand out if you keep doing it.

As Christians, we should not be primarily defined by what we do not do.

But by what we do!

Because make no mistake, people are watching.

And they are forming opinions not just about us but about our God by watching us.

What conclusions can your neighbors draw about God by watching your life?

I’ve been reading a great book by Elliot Clark entitled, Evangelism As Exiles, and he’s writing it based upon 1 Peter.

Clark was a missionary in Central Asia among a primarily Muslim population. And in chapter 5 tells the story of his wife’s close friendship with their nextdoor neighbor named Asmin, the mother of three and a nurse at nearby hospital.

Mrs. Clark and Asmin became friends over time visiting each other’s homes and getting to know each other well. One Christmas season, Asmin visited the Clark’s home and took pictures of their Advent calendar and Christmas decorations. And she was going to take that to the hospital and show it to her co-workers as a thing of interest. 

And then this happened. It’s on page 112 and 113:

"One day, when my wife had to go to the hospital for some tests, Asmin invited her to the urology floor where she was on duty. They met at the nurses’ station, then Asmin invited her into the break room. There in a small room, huddled around an old television as curls of cigarette smoke exited an open window, a cadre of nurses sought respite from their rounds–or perhaps they were there for the coming show.
Asmin introduced my wife as her American neighbor and friend, and as a Christian. However, she quickly gave one important caveat, ‘Not the kind of Christian you think.’ As doctors and orderlies peeked into the door, she explained how our family was honorable and kind. How my wife and daughters dressed modestly. How I was faithful in our marriage. How we were clean and considerate. We were Christians, yes; we were actually people of good character. We were neighbors they could trust."

Now, you say, “How strange!” but sadly many supposed Christians have given the name of Jesus a black eye.

And our neighbors are watching.

This isn’t just happening in majority Muslim countries.

This is happening here in America where we are supposed to have a lot of Christians.

Some supposed followers of Christ have given the name of Jesus a black eye. They have just given in to their evil desires and just fit in with the crowds around them.

And our neighbors are watching.

They are watching to see if this gospel, this good news that we proclaim that we sang about today and celebrate on Reformation Sunday, if this gospel actually changes lives and makes them beautiful.

Peter says it does!

And he says we are loved.

And he reminds us that we are outsiders. 

We are foreigners and exiles, and we ought to live like it.

Because when our neighbors see us living these kind of lives, even if they are mad at us, and even if they say we’re bad, and even if they take our jobs, and our money, and our lives they will have to give an account to God for that on the day He visits us.

And some of them, will even say, “Oh. They are different. And I want a piece of that! I want what they have. I want a beautiful life.”

And they will glorify God not through judgment but through salvation on the day He comes to visit us.

Because, beloved, Jesus is coming again.

We don’t ultimately live this way for our pagan neighbors, we live this way for our coming king.

Because one day, we won’t be foreigners or exiles any more.

We won’t be outsiders. We will be inside.

We will be home.


Readers with long memories may catch that I've re-used some wording from a 2014 message on this same text, "Living the Christian Life Today" (which used some wording from a 2001 message--pre-blog--on this text, as well, entitled, "Bad Desires and Good Deeds."]


Previous Messages in This Series

01. "Elect Exiles" 1 Peter 1:1-2
02. "A Living Hope" 1 Peter 1:3-7
03. "Angels Long To Look Into These Things" 1 Peter 1:8-12
04. "Be Holy In All You Do" 1 Peter 1:13-16
05. "Live Your Lives As Strangers Here In Reverent Fear" 1 Peter 1:17-21
06. "Love Each Other Deeply, From the Heart" 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
07. "But Now You Are..."