By Joe Chesser
I’m not sure what you expected when you read the title of this article, but this article is not about Avatars or giant Kaiju monsters invading Earth. Nor is this about people who cross national borders illegally.
No, this article is about us. That’s right. According to the Bible we Christians are aliens. Not that we look weird, or have super-powers, but aliens in the sense that we really don’t belong to this world in which we currently live. One of my favorite songs puts it this way: “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue ... and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
As misfits in this world, the Bible refers to us as strangers and aliens. Jesus said to his apostles, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world therefore the world hates you” (John 15.19). Later that same night in his prayer before leaving the upper room, Jesus said of his apostles, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17.16).
But it’s not just the apostles who did not belong to this world. The Bible speaks of all Christians this way. To the Philippian church Paul wrote, “For our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3.20). Peter also spoke of Christians as “aliens and strangers” (1 Peter 2.11 NASB/NIV).
So, God intends for His people, His church, to be different from the world. Like foreigners who speak a different language, who dress and act differently, who have different customs, values and priorities, Christians are not to be like their surroundings. To complete what Peter said above, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles” (1 Peter 2.11-12). The Apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2.15).
The Bible doesn’t say this will be easy or comfortable. In fact, it will not. It will require sacrifice. It will require a change of heart and mind. It will be a constant battle to refuse to conform to the world around us. Sadly, the more we choose to be like the world around us the less we will be comfortable being with God and His people.
Yet, becoming aliens and strangers is what God demands of us. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12.2). “Because you are children who obey God, don’t live the kind of lives you once lived. Once you lived to satisfy your desires because you didn’t know any better. But because God who called you is holy you must be holy in every aspect of your life” (1 Peter 1.14-15 GW).Living like the world alienates us from God. Living as God calls us to live alienates us from the world. We are aliens either way. Which kind of alien are you choosing to be? Can you truly sing, “This world is not my home; I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”