Howdy Stranger!

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered thoughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappdocia, Asia, and Bithynia. – I Peter 1:1

     The apostle Peter begins his epistle by addressing the “strangers,” the Christian church scattered throughout Asia. By addressing his brethren as strangers he is reiterating what was the prevailing mindset of the first century believers. They were people who viewed themselves as strangers and pilgrims upon this earth; foreigners, aliens and transients whose real, permanent dwelling place was heaven. They had a “better country” (Hebrews 11:16) to look forward to. They saw themselves as ambassadors from another world. An ambassador is someone who resides in a foreign country to represent the country he is from. The first century Christians viewed the world they were in as foreign; their home country was God’s realm. As ambassadors from God’s kingdom, they had no other purpose than to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, disciple those who responded to their message of hope and to serve others.

     So we are reminded here by our dear apostle Peter, of our status as foreigners upon this earth, and of the attitude that we should maintain throughout the duration of our stay.

     Peter’s first epistle was written to help prepare and encourage God’s people who were facing persecution by Nero. Many of them would be tortured and killed because they refused to deny Jesus and worship other gods. They would be experiencing great losses in this life, but because heaven was more real to them than this world, and God’s Spirit was their companion and dwelling place in this life, they were equipped to endure much tribulation.

     Likewise, we are strangers and pilgrims in this life and we have a job to do. We will also face persecutions and sometimes experience great losses just because we live on a planet that has rebelled against the God we love. Maintaining that same heavenly mindset that helped to preserve our first century brethren will also help us endure the trials and tribulations of this life, because we have through Jesus, the reality of a “better country” to return to when our tour of duty as ambassadors in this foreign world comes to a close.

Copyright 2012 by H. D. Shively

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