This Is Not Our Home
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia...” 1 Peter 1:1
Often, when we pick up our Bibles and read one of the many letters in God’s Word, its easy to skip over the beginning. We see who its from and who its to and then we quickly keep reading. But there is often great value in paying close attention to these words.
In Peter’s letter to these churches, he uses a unique phrase to describe those he’s writing to. He calls them “elect exiles”. If Pastor Greg wrote our church a letter and addressed us as exiles, I would be a little confused. But Peter is careful in the words he has chosen here.
What does it mean that we are elect exiles?
It means that this current world is not our home. We were made for a different place. An exile is a “removal to a foreign country for residence”. Exiles are people removed from their home country and sent to a foreign country. We are exiles because we were made for heaven. We were made for the garden of Eden. Why? Because, more specifically, we were made for the presence of God.
Psalm 16:11 says this, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
What does every human being want? Happiness. If you ask people what they want out of their life, the most common answer tends to be “I want to be happy”. Most people think if they have enough money, the perfect spouse, the greatest job, great health, or simply the lack of bad circumstances in life, that they will then be happy. But this happiness is fleeting. It does not last and it is not what we were made for. We were made to be satisfied in God. He gives us the fullest joy and pleasures forevermore.
C.S. Lewis puts it this way:
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
We were made for a different country than our current residence. We are exiles, waiting for our future home.
Furthermore, we are elect. Chosen by God. A friendly reminder that your future home is not on account of your own doing! It is a gift. Not earned, but given. Thank goodness it rests on God because if it were up to me to earn my way into that future home I surely wouldn’t make it in.
But where does that leave us now in the present?
Well, if you keep reading, Peter does not just tell the church to wait around till they go to this place. Rather, he calls them to be set apart. He calls them to be holy and representatives of God on this earth (1 Peter 1:13-15 and 2:11-12). We have a clear mission and calling while in this foreign country.
But we must also not forget the country we were made for. We must hope for it. Long for it. Expect it with joy. For it is far better than our current home. Just a few verse later Peter describes it as “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefined, and unfading.” It will last forever. It will not be defiled or tainted. And it will never fade or change.
This is our hope as Christians. There are many movies with scenes where one character call for another to have hope when facing a tough trial. But they never define what that hope is. As Christians, we don’t suffer from that lack of definition. Peter has laid it out here before us. And it gives us great strength for the trials we face in our current exile.