So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” 1 Peter 1:17 NLT
I felt like a stranger—because I was.
One of the drawbacks of growing up as a preacher’s kid was changing schools. Dad never stayed at one church long. This meant I changed schools often. I did the math one time. We averaged living in one place about one year, which meant many schools.
Kids usually avoid the new kid on the block, and they did me. The reasons varied—and all are not bad—but it’s tough on the new kid. I rarely made over a handful of friends, sometimes not that many. No need to make fast friends; I wouldn’t remain long enough to enjoy the friendship, and saying goodbye if I got close to them would hurt.
Other kids helped me feel like a stranger, and I accepted the label. I rarely felt as if I fit in, and they helped me feel like that in numerous ways: avoided, picked the very last for teams, laughed at, bullied, shunned.
According to Peter, I should feel like a stranger or “temporary resident.” Not in a bad way that causes me to withdraw from others, but with a mindset that this earth—or the earth in its present form—is not my final home. God will create a new heaven and a new earth, and I must die to experience it—unless Christ returns first.
As a stranger, holiness should characterize my lifestyle. God is holy and says His children should follow suit. Holy in our actions, thoughts, and words. Set apart. Different. Something I didn’t like as the new kid—and something I don’t always like as a believer. But God says this is a requirement for following Him.
Strangers in a new place are cautious. At a new school, I was careful about whom I talked to or made friends with. The same applied with the teachers. The same holds true in my experience with Christ. I must influence others who don’t know Christ, but I can’t let them influence me. I also must establish different priorities.
Being a stranger—in whatever way we are—isn’t always fun, but being one as a believer is a reality. It entails having fun, enduring persecution, going without some things, and attaining success—but success of a different kind.
Only God can give you the fortitude to live like a stranger in this world—and enjoy it. If you’re not already, become a stranger today.
Prayer: Father, help us to live in this world like the strangers we are.
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