a stranger in a strange land

one of the greatest, if not the greatest, sifi book i have ever read in my entire life is called "stranger in a strange land," it is the best-selling 1961 novel by robert heinlein. of all the books i read in college, this book had the most profound influence on my life and future actions. if you have never read the book, i suggest you buy it and read it - it is amazing. why is it amazing? because it will make you think beyond the limited possibilities we see and it will make you think about what it means to be a follower in this world, where change is possible and sacrifice is required. you see, i read the book right before i became a christian. it effected my life so deeply that i found my understanding of who i was as followers of The Way based on the actions of the main character; you have to read it to understand what i mean.

in the second letter attributed to peter, peter writes, "friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.[2:11-12]" what peter is telling us is that we are "strangers in a strange land" and we need to act accordingly. how do we do that? i am certain there are many ways, and i am certain some will disagree with the ways i am suggesting - but i would like to share with you my views on how we act like "strangers in a strange land."

first, i believe we need to stand for what is of God - not "justice" - and seek social change. you see, i believe we are to be a "just" people, but we are not to seek "justice." true justice can only come from God, our human idea of what is and is not justice is, at best, weak and blind. there is little we can do to escape the idea that justice is "not even." think of it this way, you know the person living next door is here illegally, “justice” requires you call the police and they be deported. but in God's love we are never given justice, we are given grace. “justice” requires we “turn them in” – grace requires we help them live a better life. because if we are demanding others live by "justice" [a state thing] we must be willing to answer to the same “blind” justice; and justice is never “justice” when it effects us directly. in Christ we are given grace, salvation and a walk of faith that allows us to see the face of God on our journey - so, for me i do not seek "social justice" i seek "social grace"

i believe we also need to embrace the unclean of our day. that means we need to visit people in the hospital and love on those who are hurting, wondering, seeking, thinking, and outside the love of our community. we need to visit those in prisons, literal prisons, and seek to help them to walk in the light - we need to give water to those who thirst, and we need to feed those who hunger - we need to honestly and openly work on helping people meet their physical needs long before we meet their spiritual needs - Jesus did, he was always concerned about the person on earth before he was concerned about the person going to heaven.

i believe we need to honestly and openly confess our sins and strive to walk a solid path of light, without fear of those in our community pushing us to the side and tagging us with some certain letter. you see, too many time we tell people to be open and confess their sins, and the second they do we toss them aside like damaged goods never to speak with them again. over my life time i have met more people who have been so hurt by those in the church that they refuse to even think about “coming back.” we need to be different, we need to be willing to forgive, even before being asked to forgive. if we hold peoples sins against them, then Jesus teaches God will hold our sins against us. we must forgive, forget, love and minister to the people of this world and know that God is God.

i believe we need to be willing to exchange our lives, for the lives of others. this one is the hardest things we could ever be called to do. In “the word” people are told to “defend themselves” and “kill those who wish others harm” – but Jesus goes deeper, and so should we. Jesus was willing to die for others, to give his life even when he had the power to set himself free. it is hard to think in terms of giving your life for another - who among us is willing to die for a stranger? is that not the same question paul asked? you see, we may be willing to be "inconvenienced" for a short time for a friend, but who is willing to give their lives for a complete stranger?

i believe we need to walk in a counter-cultural direction and stand firm on the issues facing us as a people of faith - it is not that we are demanding that others follow our way, it is that we just will not follow their way. you see, as people of faith we are called to live a very different life then those who are not called to faith. our faith requires that we actually do something, take action and stand firm on who we are and how we act as followers of The Way.

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