As I finished up my last post on the ideas of being able to overcome the community-busting sins listed in the first several verse of 1 Peter 2, it occurred to me that I wanted to share a few more thoughts on the ideas of being aliens in this world. This is terminology that has always appealed to me and sounded familiar yet at the same time difficult to comprehend. We are not made for this world. We are made for something bigger, something greater, something else. We are made for another place. One of my favorite aliens is Thor from Stargate SG1. (I snatched this from http://www.newanimal.org/aliens.htm) I don’t think this is what Peter is talking about when he says we are aliens in this world. We are not aliens in the sense that we are from another planet, but we are from another ‘place’.
What is it that Peter meant by being aliens and strangers in this world? He meant that we are created for more… I know I already said that. It is often missed though. As I write this, I’m listening to the Catalyst Lab by Alan and Deb Hirsch. They are talking about various things that we allow to crowd out God and become idols to us. That’s why realizing we are aliens in this world is so very important. When we forget that we don’t belong in this world, we allow this world and all it has to offer to become an idol or a myriad of idols to us.
We are not to make our homes here in this world with the things of this world. Jesus tells us,
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
If this is true, then when we live as though we belong here then our treasure and our hearts are here in this world. If we live as though we belong in this world, then we have created idols of the things of this world.
I like what the Scottish theologian William Barclay had to say regarding the need to abstain from the fleshly desires because we are aliens in this world. He points out that it is essential for us to remove the fleshly lusts from our lives because it further prohibits us from living in the kind of community that Christ calls us to. The fleshly desires Peter talks about is what Barclay enlightens us to know are the human nature apart from God. It is the unredeemed nature of man, it is the characteristic of the fallen human nature.
This is why it is so critical for us to leave these fleshly desires (which includes malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, slander) in order to be able to build the community that Christ calls us to. If we haven’t left these out, and other sins for that matter, how are we going to be able to act and live as a holy nation and a royal priesthood? We can’t, plainly put.
How well we are able to remember and live as aliens who are just passing through directly correlates to how well we are going to be able to function within our calling to be a light shining in the darkness of this world.
Are you living as an alien and stranger in this world, or have you made this world your home and thereby created a life of idols with little to no room for God?