This World’s Not My Home

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My uncle once said something to me that makes me smile when I remember it. He was talking about the way we value things we own. “Nobody washes a rented car.”  Makes sense, right?  I take care of my car, regularly changing the oil, checking tire pressure, making sure the various fluids are at proper levels, vacuuming the interior.  I’ve never even raised the hood of a rental car when I travel.  There is no obligation of ownership.

How about the way we live in this world as Christians?
We know we’re not ‘’at home” yet. What does that mean for our daily lives?

Peter tells us to live lightly, to understand that we are just temporary residents of this present world. At the same time he urges us to live responsibly. We are not to ‘trash’ this world, even though it is not our final home.

Here is the full passage. “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 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. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:11-17, NIV)

Some of those Christians to whom he was writing had concluded that since the body was part of a perishing world, their choices made little difference. The Spirit clearly reminds them and us that the choices we make about how we act; our sexuality, our appetites, our words, do matter for two important reasons.
First of all, he teaches us that when we indulge ‘sinful desires’ there is an effect on the well being our soul. Our body and spirit are, until death, inseparable and the health of one is connected to the other.
Second, there is the issue of Christ’s honor!  When we are authentically good, people will see the invisible Christ in us and recognize the work of the Holy Spirit.

In a word that is so applicable to our time, Peter says that even though Christians are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God, they are not to live lawlessly! Even though they were temporary residents, they were not to discard the order of the world in which they lived. Nor should we. Are you a good citizen, respecting the authority of your government?  You might object that it is corrupt, or that you do not see those in office as worthy of honor.  Think of the people who first read these divinely inspired words!  They lived under Roman tyranny, with little or no protection of their individual rights. The governmental authority often worked against the Church, trying to suppress her.  And still Peter (and Paul, by the way) taught them to live lawfully, to respect the government, to honor the king.

Did they do so out of obligation? Not at all. They were ‘free’ citizens of God’s eternal Kingdom.  But, they lived honorably and respectfully for Christ’s sake!

To be sure, there are nuances of reasoning that involve the limits of human authority when it transgresses on God’s higher law.  I do not read the whole of Scripture to forbid civil disobedience, but the Word is clear that even when we feel we must resist the government because of the demands of Christ, we do so respectfully and prepared to endure the punishment that follows, even while we trust ourselves to the care of the Lord.

Are you trashing your world?
Are you a lousy employee because you think ‘it’s just a job,’ and unimportant to God?
Are you living with poor ethics because you mistakenly think it just doesn’t matter in the eternal scheme of things?
Are you leaving bills unpaid, obligations ignored, commitments unkept because you think being a Christian gives you license?

Think again! Here are Peter’s words, inspired by the Spirit, from the Message. May this word from the Word make our lives a shining example of holy, pure Christian living – all with the desire to honor our King. “Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.” (1 Peter 2:13-17, The Message)

____________

This World Is Not My Home

(a Merle Haggard edition of this old Gospel song)

This world is not my home
I’m only passing through
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore

O Lord You know
I have no friend like You
If heaven’s not my home
O Lord what will I do
The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore

Albert Brumley Public Domain

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