One of my sons has a video production company and works with a lot of major networks and designers in New York City and Los Angeles.
He said to me once, “If I were to share some of my views on life with some of the people that I work with, they would think I’m from another planet!”
Even if you reside in a traditionally conservative part of the world, living out an authentic Christian faith at street-level should make you feel like a stranger and an exile (Hebrews 11:13).
The problem is, we don’t like being not accepted. Maybe you think fear of man isn’t an issue for me, but I don’t want to merely be loved and understood – I want be liked, appreciated, and part of the popular crowd.
In various ways of everyday Christian life, our alien faith will conflict with the values of our temporary residence. Here are a few things to remember when the journey gets awkward.
1. Embrace Your Uncomfortable Identity
Faith gives you a brand new identity. Peter starts his first letter, “To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion.” He addresses his fellow believers as exiles, as if that’s their official name.
When we swear allegiance to a new King, we embrace a new set of values, a new way of thinking, and a new lifestyle of choices. Accept the fact that as an alien, life will be uncomfortable, and people will naturally question your decisions.
2. Engage And Sympathize With Culture
The Christian faith doesn’t call us to be monastics hermits; in fact, quite the opposite! We are meant to engage with culture and interact with a lost and broken people. We just happen to do so with a radically different perspective.
Being an alien doesn’t mean being contentious, either. Yes, we will have to defend the faith and biblical values, but a lot of times we make little issues much bigger than they need to be. Remember, we are more like our neighbors than unlike them.
3. Remember Your Example
The best reminder for alien living is our Lord and Savior. How’s this for a job description? “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) Jesus knows what you’re experiencing, and he walks with you every awkward step of the way.
4. Look Forward To A Better Home
The Bible identifies us as sojourners, people temporarily stopping over before our final destination. If those listed in Hebrews 11 “desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (v. 16), we can learn from their example and find motivation for faithful living by looking forward to the city God has prepared for us.
God is not ashamed to be called our God. Let’s not be afraid to live as aliens!
- How has life been uncomfortable for you recently because of your identity as a Christian?
- Think of a time when you responded poorly to your uncomfortable identity. What were the values of your heart in that moment?
- Think of a time when you responded biblically to your uncomfortable identity. What were the values of your heart in that moment?
- How can you be more proactive about engaging with culture in a bold yet sympathetic way? Write down a few action steps.
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Paul David Tripp is a pastor, author and conference speaker. He is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.