NKJV Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (2) elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied….1Pe 2:9-12 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (10) who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (11) Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, (12) having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
These verses expose a critical fact that many Christians never really grasp or even consider in their lives. It can change the way they look at the world around them and the lost of this world. It can also change the way Christians look at one another.
We are in the world but not of the world…Christian unity needs to become a priority. If we truly believe we are citizens of the kingdom of God and not citizens of the world, we need to treat one another as part of the same team. Unfortunately Christian denominationalism has produced a Christian Body that fights more with itself than the true enemy, Satan and his army.
Let us first look at how we view situations and the way we view others.
I live in northern Minnesota and we view people who live in various parts of the state differently. Some people we see living in certain areas as the “rich and yuppie”. Other areas of the state are the “artsy”, and still other areas have people who we see are “clickish and clannish”. We identify the differences they have with us and hold our identity as different and apart from them in many ways.
However, have you ever traveled to a different state or country and run into someone from Minnesota or the state you reside in? Those differences seem to disappear and we find unity with a fellow Minnesotan. Why is this? It is because we are on someone else’s turf or territory and find comfort and a relationship with someone from the state we live in. Our paradigm of how we view that person has changed and it reflects in the way we act with them. They can easily become a friend and companion.
How does this have anything to do with the Christian Church?
The scriptures throughout the Bible make it clear this world is not our home. The example of the Israelite’s shows how no matter where they were they were not considered welcome or part of the area. The apostle Peter describes us, who are believers and followers of Jesus Christ, with the Greek word parepidēmos, which is defined as: one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives, a stranger, sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner.
Do we act as Peter describes? As aliens, strangers living in this world with worldly cultures and beliefs?
- We should see other believers that go to different fellowships as having something in common that creates a relationship of unity that supports us in the face of the “world” we live in.
- For those that truly believe that Jesus is God and Lord and King, the world sees that in us and sees us as strangers living in their world. The Holy Spirit in us leaves an identity mark that the world sees clearly in how we act, talk and share the truth.
- Do you find yourself trying to hide this distinguishing identity?
We as believers must get past the divisions that we have put in place with one another.
- Is the difference we have with another Christian fellowship really that critical that we will not nurture a relationship with them?
- Do we place the pride in the name of the church we attend and the number that attend there over the unifying name of Jesus Christ? The tower in Babel was seen as an object that all the citizens could claim identity with and have pride in what they were a part of. (Gen 11:4) Churches can fall into this same error with placing their identity on items like holiness standards, exercising of the gifts, number attending, and doctrinal statements that the Bible does not prove out.
We as believers in the truth and salvation in Jesus Christ need to live and share in the fight for independence from sin, Satan and the world. We need to bind together and not separate. What Benjamin Franklin stated to those promoting independence from England is relevant to us. Ben stated, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”