When you think about 2016, what was the strangest thing that happened? For me, I found it strange to pray about leaving to plant a church—quietly praying about making a departure from the people I am committed to being present with. It was strange, and yet it was my best spiritual moment of 2016. In some ways, it is normal… See, I would suggest that your best spiritual moment this year…will be strange. Really. In the previous posts, we talked about how our best spiritual moments are usually moments of exile or mission. The New Testament describes the exile of the church from Jerusalem in Acts 8, but it only uses the word “exile” twice. Peter used it describing the Christians to whom he was writing his first letter.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, exiles scattered throughout the
provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (1Pe 1:1 NIV)
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles (also translated “strangers”, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage 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. (1Pe 2:11-12 NIV)
Did you see that? He refers to their exile and challenges them to make their exile into a mission. God leads us to various places and every place can be a mission, a place to bless, to serve, to speak, to love and to nurture. Every moment can matter.
And that leads us full circle. Exile is fundamentally about not being home. Peter recognizes that we are people who are “not home,” strangers and foreigners” in this world. Every moment outside of heaven is exile from our true home and even though we are not home, every moment matters. That is how we turn our exile into a mission. To live this way feels “strange.” Everything around us calls us to live for now, put our tribe first, put our interests first. To live otherwise will make you a stranger to those around you. It will make you strange and the further you go in this will feel strange. Living on mission puts you, in some ways, in exile.
Just like life in exile can turn into a life of mission, a life of mission will become a life of exile.
Your best spiritual moment this year will be in exile, mission, or both—and it will be strange.