You don’t belong here. Although it is necessary for you to pass the rest of your time in the flesh here, this isn’t your homeland. You are “exiles” (1Peter 1:ESV). Those who are native to this world continue to be wrapped up in the things of this earth. It’s only natural – they belong to this world. But you have “an inheritance in heaven” (1Peter 1:4). And the reason you have belongings in heaven is that you belong in heaven. It’s your homeland because it is the place of your birth. You were “born again to a living hope” (1Peter 1:3, ESV), a heavenly birth.
Is it any wonder, then, that your values collide with your peers’ values? Should it surprise you that laws will be passed that conflict with your sense of righteousness? Are you guaranteed the peaceful liberty to worship the Father as you would like for the rest of your days? No. You are “exiles …, strangers.” This isn’t your homeland.
Although you are required to spend time here, Peter says you need to remember that you are just “sojourners” (1Peter 2:11, ESV ) – without earthly citizenship, passing through temporarily, fulfilling “the time of your exile” (1Peter 1:17, ESV). You must not allow the thinking of earth to change who you are. Remember Lot and his family in Genesis 19. Lot was a believer living in the foreign territory of Sodom. But you’d hardly know it wasn’t his native city. He made it his homeland, with sad results. “He was tormenting his righteous soul” (2Peter 2:8, ESV). If you get a little too comfortable in your land of exile, the reality of your homeland will fade in your mind and the influence of the Father of your heavenly birth will falter. “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people … Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1Peter 2:10-11, ESV).
While you may talk or look or act a little different than others around you, they generally don’t perceive you as exiles. They just want you to fit in; they feel more comfortable if you just adopt their lifestyle. So while they are “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry… they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1Peter 3:3-4, ESV). Remember Daniel and his friends. They were exiles in Babylon (interestingly, see 1Peter 5:13), and instead of fitting in, they maintained their character as sons of a different country. They were maligned and persecuted, but they remembered who they were and where they came from.
Don’t forget who you are – spiritual exiles, just passing through. Don’t forget where you belong – heaven. And don’t forget that the Lord has something far better for you up there than anything you could experience in this land of your exile – “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1Peter 1:4, ESV).