Advent Reading Day 24 – Living as a Foreigner
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1
It is interesting living in a foreign country and needing to learn the basics of living all over again. There are so many things that were normal in the US that now have to be relearned here. It applies to everything from how to greet, to what is offensive – or not offensive, to how to pay the bills. In the States I could go out and enjoy a beer with friends, but here to be seen in a bar marks me as a backslider who has lost his faith. In the US I could call a government office and ask for information, but here I must go stand in line and wait my turn…and if they can’t get to me today then return the next day and the day after that until I can be served. In the US I could Google directions for just about anywhere, but here there is no such thing as a physical address. It can be challenging to live life in a foreign land with so many things that seem so different and so inconvenient. Being a foreigner ensures that I will always feel a bit out of place and a bit strange to the culture around me.
Consider Jesus’ coming into this world. Jesus came not only to die, but also to teach us how to live. His coming as a Baby and growing and maturing and facing temptation and walking the face of the earth for 33 years was not all about God’s Mission for His death, but it also was to restore for us what it meant to truly be human and to show the way to true life. Jesus’ teaching came about not only in His parables, but also in His example of what it means to live as a Kingdom person here on the earth…in essence to live as a foreigner in the kingdom of this world while not giving our allegiance to this world. Jesus demonstrated what a revolutionary life looks like – a Kingdom life that is not bound by the limitations of the fallen world we live in, but rather that is focused on a different Kingdom – God’s Kingdom. And in this focus, He calls us back to God’s original intention and design for how we live in relationship with Him and with each other.
Jesus’ coming brings about a restoration of life…true life for us which we start living today. He calls us to live like foreigners in a land that we view as being our home. He was born into culture like we are (not above culture), but He became a prophetic voice calling all of us out of our cultural blind spots to consider The truth of The Kingdom. He shows us that the way to life is to seek first His Kingdom rather than the culture around us that has become like breathing to us. If we truly want to find life, we will find it there in that seeking of Him that moves counter to culture many times. He will meet us with a life that we never expected. He will meet us with a kind of life that follows His own – a life that seeks to live as a foreigner…one that looks different and for whom the dominant culture always remains strangely foreign.
I am struck by the fact that for many of us we will soon be celebrating with friends and family who have a different definition of life and for whom seeking first God’s Kingdom is nowhere on their radar. In these situations it is easy for us to find ourselves either super aggressive and thereby offensive or very passive and slowly being lulled back into the lifeless ruts that we used to find ourselves in. In these situations it seems so much easier to revert back to one’s old citizenship and stop living as a foreigner whose citizenship is focused on God’s Kingdom. May Jesus meet you this Christmas and guide you in the way to life…the way of living as a foreigner in a land we call our own, yet with our citizenship belonging in the true Kingdom of life. And may that way of life that you express to those around you seem strangely compelling to them, revealing the hunger in their own hearts for something foreign.
Prayer: Jesus, Thank you for the life you extend to us. We celebrate that you were born fully human, into the culture of your day which while having markings of God’s touch was also very distorted…like ours today. Thank you that you gave us the model of what it means to live within culture while not being consumed by it. Thank you for the example you lead us into of seeking first Your Kingdom rather than the cultural forces that we become blind to and comfortable in. Challenge us this Christmas season in what it means to follow hard after you and live as foreigners to this world while being focused citizens of Your Kingdom. Amen.