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Being a Resident Alien
In the midst of the political turmoil our country is experiencing, the church is called to play an important role. We sit between the revelation of the love of God on the cross and the full manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth. God wants to work with us and in us to grow his kingdom. He longs for a people who minister on earth in the way that Jesus ministered when he walked the earth.
The enemy that confronted Jesus in his earthly ministry continues to confront the “body of Christ” today. Though God’s archenemy was in principle defeated on the cross, this victory is not yet fully manifest.
Even after the resurrection, Satan is still the god of this age, the ruler of the power of the air, and the one who opposes the advancement of God’s kingdom. The world is still “enemy-occupied territory.” The “pattern of this world” is still demonically structured, and so we must still resist being conformed to it (Rom 12:2).
We who have Christ being formed within us are no more at home in this present world system than Jesus himself was, and so our attitude toward the present world system must be the same as his. His kingdom was not of this world, and we who are part of this kingdom must never forget that we are not of his world either (see John 17:16).
Therefore, we are not to let ourselves get overly entangled in “civilian affairs” (2 Tim 2:4). Instead we are to see ourselves as aliens and exiles in a foreign country (1 Peter 2:11). Whatever country we may naturally belong to, we are to remember always that our real citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20).
Whatever opinions we have about how to solve society’s problems—even in the midst of great turmoil about huge political questions—we are to remember always that we cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13). Our allegiance can never be to any version of the kingdom-of-the-world. We are to see ourselves as “resident aliens.” We are in the world, but are not of the world any more than Jesus was of the world.
We must march to the beat of a different drummer. Preserving this “alien status” is not an addendum to our calling as kingdom-of-God citizens. The way we advance the kingdom of God is by being the unique kingdom of God in contrast to the kingdom of the world.
We are to be a “holy” people (2 Cor 6:17), consecrated and set apart. We trivialize this profound biblical teaching if we associate holiness with fighting political battles according to the patterns of this world. We are called to be Christlike, living in outrageous, self-sacrifical love in the midst of those who do not.
If you make this your life aspiration, you will certainly be peculiar (about as peculiar as a Messiah dying on a cursed tree!). You will be, in fact, a “resident alien.”
—Adapted from The Myth of a Christian Nation, pages 69-71