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Missions 101

The Pilgrim Mindset

Jan. 14, 2013By: Evan Burns

In some Christian circles, there is strong emphasis on relating to the culture around us.  This is especially trendy among twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings.  They give much weight to Paul’s self-description of being all things to all people (1 Cor 9:19-23).  Yet it seems they very rarely heed the numerous commands to be sojourners and exiles in this world.  This world and its passions are passing away.  The cultural siren that says we must maximize pleasure and security in this life is the Serpent-language.  It is the culture of Babylon. 

However, as described in Hebrews 11, the heirs of Abraham—the righteous—live by faith, and they leave the comfort of home to follow God though they do not know where they are going.  They live like nomads in the land of promise.  They build tents instead of cities.  They build arks in the desert.  They suffer torture because they desire a better resurrection and live in caves and holes in the ground.  The spiritual heirs of Abraham greet the promises from afar as exiles and resident aliens in this world, and they make it clear that they are seeking a better city, the city of God Himself.  Their citizenship, values, and culture are that of the heavenly Jerusalem.  They do not try hard to be relevant to their alien culture.  Instead, their relevance to their host culture is seen in their distinctiveness from it.  They take risks in this life for the sake of spreading the love of Christ, though they may lose their worldly possessions and even their lives.  As it is, they have a better possession and an abiding one, for here they have no lasting city.  Though they are citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, they still render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and they seek the peace of the temporal city in which they reside.  They pray for kings and all in high places, that they may lead a peaceful life. 

The kingdom is already and not yet.  It was inaugurated in Christ’s first coming and yet remains to be consummated.  The best has come, but the best is yet to come.  We must live in the tension.  Hope is a difficult thing to understand.  Like Augustine suggested, the city of God is marked by new desires for the things of God.  Those who hope in God desire a better country, a heavenly one.  God is not ashamed to be called their God.  When we hope in the final resurrection and the return of the King, unbreakable joy pierces through to the present from the future to sustain us in our suffering.  No matter what the Serpent and Babylon seductively offer us, and no matter what the sting of death takes from us, hope in the promises of God unwaveringly declares, “The Seed and His city are better.”  

Tags:  spiritual life, worldview
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