Twice in my life I have lived in big cities where almost everyone is transient. People are in search of community, people are independent, people are unreliable, but you can always find friends and someone to do something with. Twice in my life I have moved into communities where almost everyone is home-grown, somehow related to everyone else, they are tight nit and no matter how much they think they like you and no matter how long you live amongst them, you will always be an outsider because you are not blood. And twice in my life I have lived in foreign cities where I was an outsider by every meaning of the word: language, skin color, values, religion, everything.
There are times in your life when you know you just do not belong. It’s like that last day each year in college, you have just taken your last final exam, you walk through the dormitory and half of the residents have already packed up and headed home for the summer, you no longer have a reason to be there and you get that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach and you know it is time to go home. But sometimes it lasts for weeks, or months, or years. You will never be a native, once you have moved. And in some places that means nothing, but in other places that means everything. Relationally, anyway. We chronically live our lives in cliques and cool kid clubs.
After Jesus returned to Heaven and the early church was planted, there was much persecution and Christians were scattered. They were forced out of their homes and they had to flee for their lives, settling in foreign communities. They were outsiders. They were not blood. But they were born of the Holy Spirit and had the bond with God of being His child.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
– Eph 2.19-22
Since the Church at large was being persecuted and scattered, the unifying factor for believers was their faith, and no longer blood. They were one in Christ and found their community and comfort in caring for one another and corporately relying on God. They were being nit together, formed into a temple for the Holy Spirit. Often we misunderstand the purpose of the Church and individual faith, considering ourselves to be lone ranger believers who are each a temple of the Holy Spirit. But we learn here that we, corporately, make the Church and in unity with one another become the temple; the dwelling place for Him.
When we function as the body, we have a place and we belong. But it is not our ultimate home.
For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
– Heb 13.14
We were saved unto an eternal salvation and will one day be taken “home” to be with the father, forever. Only there, in our new and glorified bodies will we truly belong. Only there will we be blood, will we be native, will we be truly at home. And since we are longing for that eternity, we cannot make peace with our Earthly dwelling.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
– 1 Peter 2.11
We must continually wage war against our sinful flesh. We must continually fight the fight of being comfortable and lazy and make ourselves aware of the hurting and needy around us. There are some people in your church who are not blood, who do not belong, and who are hurting and broken. Skip lunch on Sunday with your cousins and buddies and go love on that hurting and lonely couple. Tell your crib mate that you will talk to them later and go welcome that visitor and get to know someone new. But beware the temptation of shallow and transient relationships, too. We are to function as the body, to hold one another accountable, to be involved in each other’s lives, carrying one another’s burdens and forming the temple for the Holy Spirit. Let’s break out of our comfort zones, let’s remember that our true home is eternity with Christ, and let’s build the temple of the Holy Spirit by unifying, welcoming, embracing the believers that God puts into our paths. Let’s break the mold.