Aliens and Strangers
Study Guide, January 23, 2022
Pastor Clay Olsen
Do you know why this world feels so strange to us? Do you know why this world feels so foreign to us…why you feel so out of place in this world? 1 Peter 2:9-11- “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” NASU
The people of this world do not understand who you are. Yes, you were born into this world, but you were ‘Born Again’ into another world…into God’s world…into God’s Kingdom! And the change was so great to your soul and spirit that it not only changed your eternity, it changed your very identity, especially as to who you are in relation to this world. You are an ‘alien and stranger’ here, a ‘sojourner and pilgrim’ here, a ‘foreigner and an exile’ here in this world.
Well then, no wonder we feel so out of place in this place. And the longer we live in this world the more aware we are that we do not belong to this world. Brothers and Sisters, think on these things, because it is the world to which we do belong that determines everything about how we are to live and deal with this world to which we do not belong. In Jesus’ central prayer to the Father for His people He said this: John 17:14-19- “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” NASU
We are to seek to understand all we can about this world, but do not expect to be understood by this world. Why? Because you are an alien and stranger here, and you do not belong to this world. Seek to share the truths of God’s Word with this world, but do not be surprised when others resist or refuse or reject these truths. Why? Because you are an alien and stranger here, and you do not belong to this world, and thus, many of this world will not receive God’s truths. In fact, the closer God’s world gets to overtaking this world, the more this world will resist and refuse and reject everything about God’s coming world…including you.
The spirit of this world is getting darker. It is not primarily you it is rejecting…it is not primarily morals it is rejecting…it is not primarily the Church it is rejecting…it is primarily Jesus Christ that this world is rejecting. These are Jesus’ words to you and to me: John 15:18-23- “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also.” NASU
Why do so many people in this world hate those who love Jesus? Because so many people in this world hate Jesus. And since they hate Jesus, they hate the Father also. That is exactly what Jesus said. When Christians seek to share the truths of the Gospel and the truths of God’s Word about justice and mercy and morals and values, why do so many resist and refuse and reject Biblical justice and Biblical mercy and Biblical morals and Biblical values? It’s because they are rejecting the Biblical Jesus and His justice and His mercy and His morals and His values. “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also.”
Again, that is what we must know about who we really are, and why this world is the way it is. But, and the great encouragement is, that we must also then realize that because of who we really are, and Whose we really are, that now everything we do to honor Christ and share His truths and bless others is extremely needed by this world, and is extremely valuable, and has everlasting results. Know this: This world is in desperate need of you and me and every follower of Jesus Christ. This world is in desperate need for you and me to live in this dark and dying world as a light for truth and righteousness and the Gospel of salvation. This world’s only hope is Jesus Christ and His saving grace and eternal life. And He has chosen to use His body, you and me, as the primary way to draw people unto Him. It is in fact, the main reason that you and I are still here, in this world that is not our home…in this world to which do not belong. We are called to extend God’s grace to those who don’t deserve it, knowing that God also extended His grace to us who did not deserve it. That is a challenge to be sure, but also be sure…that is our commission.
Again, God’s world, God’s Kingdom, God’s Heaven is our Home. That is where we belong. But as long as we are still here, we are still here because…well, remember what Jesus said about that: “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”
Brothers and Sisters, consider yourself ‘Sent’…personally sent by Jesus. We have each been personally sent by Jesus to be a light to this world that is growing darker spiritually, morally, and physically. That darkness is growing every year that gets closer to Jesus’ return. We have each been personally sent by Jesus to be salt to this world…to this world that is decaying more and more spiritually, morally, and physically. That decay is growing worse every year that gets closer to Jesus’ return. Again, consider yourself sent. You have been commissioned by Jesus Himself. You are on assignment for Jesus and His Kingdom that is coming soon. And it means that from here on out you and I are to do everything that we can, in such a way, that something will show through our lives as a light unto Christ and as salt unto others.
In other words, whatever you do, make sure that you do it all unto the glory of God. Whatever you are doing, even whatever you have to go through, or whatever you have opportunity to do…do it differently from the world. Do it all as one who belongs to another world. We do not belong to this world. But even so, we may have to go through everything that those of this world go through. But remember this: Disciples of Jesus Christ do everything differently from those of this world. We do it all according to who we really are…we are aliens and strangers. We are those who are passing through this world…passing through this world that is passing away. And when we do whatever we have to do, or when we go through whatever we have to go through as unto the Lord and in dependence and trust in the Lord, then God transforms whatever we do into light and salt in the eyes of this world. And God the Holy Spirit then uses that light and that salt to convict and change the souls of the lost and the dying around us in this world.
C.S. Lewis said that those who do the most for this world of Earth are those who dwell most on the world of Heaven. The Apostle Paul put it like this: Col 3:1-4- “Therefore if (and since) you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” NASU
Remember, the real you is, for the most part, ‘hidden’ from this world. You are a chosen and adopted and royal son or daughter of the Creator and Lord of all life. You are God’s precious possession, purchased by the sinless blood of Christ. You are destined to reign with Christ over all the New Heavens and New Earth. This world does not know that about you, about who you really are. But you must know that about you, because only when you know who you really are can you live how you really should, by the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells you. Plus, you see, the more that we set our minds on the things above and on the realities of who we really are, the more we can then deal with everything in this life according to who we really are; and do it all differently from the ways that those who are of this world deal with everything. What do we mean?
Take, for example, this world-wide sickness, this pestilence, that is afflicting so many people. What does God say about how His people deal with afflictions? 2 Cor 1:3-7- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.” NASU
In a world of suffering, suffering is normal. On the battlefield of life, battles are normal. In a land of afflictions, affliction is normal. What is not normal is having a Father of mercies and a God of all comfort to comfort us in our afflictions. This is different. And although we do not know what afflictions we may have to endure we do know that our Father of mercies will come to us and will comfort us and will have mercy upon us.
And we know that even while living in this mortal world, we have each had wondrous healings, even miraculous healings. In fact, but for the healings of God, both those we know about and others we didn’t even know about, yet, if not for our God being our Jehovah Rapha, our Healer, we would not even be here today. The Psalmist revealed that the Lord is healing us most times in ways that we are not even aware of. Ps 103:1-3- “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.” NASU Again, we live in a lost and dying world, a sick and diseased world. The surprise is not that we endure sicknesses in this sick world…no, the surprise is that any of us are ever well at all! Even now, the Psalmist points out, our God has been and is healing our diseases. At times, these healings are in time. At times these healings are immediate. And at other times these healings are the ultimate…our ultimate healing, for this mortal must put on immortality in order to live in the new world of Immortals.
Many of us have or know loved ones who have just experienced the ultimate healing. We call it ‘death’ on this side…it is the ‘ultimate healing’ on the other side. It is the putting off of the ‘mortal’ in order to put on ‘immortality’. And those, who were once afflicted in this world where afflictions are normal, are now experiencing a new normal! And this new normal is now ‘life with no death, no sorrow, no mourning, no suffering, no pain.’ Even the best day any believer ever experienced on Earth of feeling as well as they possibly could pales in comparison to how wonderful every believer in Heaven now feels every single day! And this reality is your near future. This amazing experience of perfect health is soon to be your new normal! It is just one of the wondrous joys that awaits each of us who belong to Jesus Christ through becoming ‘Born Again’.
This is just one example of how Disciples of Jesus can do whatever they have to do differently from those of this world who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This world knows too much about crises. This world knows too much about chaos. This world knows too much about confusion. What this world does not know much about is the comfort of God…about ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.’ God comforts us through His presence; He comforts us through His promises; and He comforts us through His people.
We are and can be carriers of God’s comforting ministry. It’s just one way that Disciples do life differently than this world…because we belong to another world. And we’ll explore more about all of that next time.
But one preview to think about that we’ll talk about; it’s this: ‘Where you are seated determines how you walk.’ When God raised our spirit unto new life, He also seated us in heavenly places. Therefore, being already seated in Heaven is now to determine how we walk throughout this Earth.