“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV).
We have all heard the saying, and probably said it ourselves, “That is a good place to visit, but I would not want to live there.” There are many beautiful and exciting places on this earth which God has made, but not all of them provide security and comfort. It is one thing to visit the Himalayas of Nepal for a few days or weeks, but would you really want to live at 10,000 feet, grow your meager food in tiny terraced fields, and go without electricity, nearby water, competent medical help and other necessities? Most of us would quickly say “No, thank you.”
Citizens of developed nations like it at home. They will take an occasional adventure, but when all is said and done, most of them would prefer a heated and/or cooled house, tasty and nutritious food without scarcity, and all of the modern conveniences.
In less developed nations many of those things are lacking. It should not surprise us, therefore, to find that many of their people feel the opposite way about their own homes. Their hope and dream is to emigrate, then to visit family and roots occasionally, but never again live in their own homeland permanently. Westerners find that strange and somewhat disturbing. People should not dislike their own homes, should they? I guess it depends on what those homes are like.
Christians are in that same situation. If we have died to Christ (Colossians 3:3) and have “set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2), we find ourselves less and less comfortable and secure in this world of sin and temptation. We are not really at home here – rather we are “sojourners and pilgrims,” at odds and cross-purposes with our neighbors. As Peter explained, “They think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you” (1 Peter 4:4).
When I travel to other continents I often stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. I am taller, my skin is paler, and my dress is different. I cannot hide among the local populations. If we trust in Jesus and “Do all in the name of the Lord” (Colossians 3:17) we will be even more out of place in the culture of selfishness, materialism, and indulgence that defines our society.
But if we can only remember, we are just visiting, we don’t really live here. As the song tells us, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” Heaven awaits us at the end of our journey; that is our true home.