Sunday, November 30, 2014


This Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent season. It is the time when we focus on Christ coming to the world. God had a plan to redeem His people. He declared His plan to His prophets over the centuries and is fulfilling His Word even now. Advent is a beautiful season of reflection and anticipation. In our quitter moments, we sometimes are confronted with two questions: What have I done with my life? and What will I do with the rest of my life? These questions are not so much in regards to the details of life, what jobs we had, where we lived or what our college roommate will be like next year or who will we marry. Rather, we ask them in search of the significant purpose of our lives.
Advent is a time for asking the big questions of life, though this season tends to crowd out the quiet spaces, making us tired and worn out, and leaving us no room for reflection, let’s try to make room for some reflection. When you do find such time; ask this one big question of your life. What is God’s plan for me personally? Where do I fit in God’s overall purpose?

Two weeks ago we started talking about finding, “Your Place on God’s Dream Team.” I shared about how to assess our true potential, in order to know our true potential we need to employ sober judgment from Romans 12:1-3, Paul exhorted the Roman believers saying, “As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.” J.B Philips. We learned that sober judgment means to have a sane estimation of our gifts, capabilities and weaknesses. Which means not to overestimate or under estimate our gifts, instead we take a realistic view of ourselves. After exhorting the believers not to have an elevated view of oneself, he compares human body, to church the body of Christ, whose head is the Lord Jesus himself.
I. MANY PARTS BUT ONE BODY (Vs 4-5)         
“For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use, So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another (mutually dependent on one another) (AMP). The scriptures tell us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  The human body is a complete wonder. Here are a couple of facts about the human body:

The human body is estimated to have 60,000 miles of blood vessels. To put that in perspective, the distance around the earth is about 25,000 miles, making the distance your blood vessels could travel if laid end to end more than two times around the earth. Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as 170 miles per hour. Ever wonder how you can react so fast to things around you or why that stubbed toe hurts right away? It’s due to the super speedy movement of nerve impulses from your brain to the rest of your body and vice versa, bringing reactions at the speed of a high powered luxury sports car.[1]

In our passage in Romans 12: 4-5, the Apostle Paul uses the graphic example of the human body. Why human body? There are three points from this analogy we can observe. First, the body represents completeness, a whole, a totality but a totality made up of different parts. Similarly, we who make up the body of Christ have different functions. We are not all the same. We are gifted in different ways. Just as the physical body needs hands, feet, ears and eyes to enable it to function properly, so the body of Christ needs those with different gifts to enable it to function properly. We are to have unity through diversity. Isn't it wonderful to know that we all don’t have to behave just alike? It is perfectly OK to be different.

Secondly, we see in this analogy we don’t have to do it all by ourselves.” We do our part and we will let others do their part. In the end together we will get the job done. Together we will do the work of the ministry for the Lord.  Thirdly Paul emphasizes our mutual dependence in the Body of Christ. We really need each other. No member of Christ’s body can go off on a desert island and be a victorious Christian all by herself. God has purposefully made us so that we are incomplete without the ministry of other brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.

It is important to recognize that it is God who has arranged all the body parts as he saw it fit in our physical body. Similarly God has placed different members in the body of Christ and blessed them with different gifts. Though we are individually separated from each other spiritually we are all interconnected and interdependent of one another. Let’s look at what those various gifts are and how each of those gifts corresponds to a part of the physical body.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.  We see in this passage seven different gifts mentioned:  1. Prophecy (perceiver) 2. Server. 3 Teacher. 4. Exhorter (encouragement) 5. Giver 6. Leader (Administration) 7. Compassion person. Don & Katie Fortune in their book “Discovering Your God given gifts.” compares these seven gifts to seven part of human body. Perceiver (the eye of the body). Server (the hands of the body).Teacher (the mind of the body). Exhorter (the mouth of the body). Giver (the arms of the body). Leader/Administration (the shoulders of the body). Compassion person: (the heart of the body).[2] 

Let’s take a moment and identify where your place might be in the body of Christ; God’s Dream team! Whatever place you might find yourself in that is a very important place.We can put all these seven gifts into two broad categories. I Peter 4:10-11 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 

According to this scripture there are two basic categories of gifts: the speaking gifts and serving gifts.The first four gifts (Teacher, Perceiver, Exhorter, and Leader) can be placed under speaking gifts. The other three (Compassion Person, Giver and Server) can be placed under serving gifts. If we look around in our church each of us can either fall into one of the two categories. But it doesn't really matter which category you may fall into, the bottom line of these gifts is that they were not meant for ourselves but to use them to serve others. How do we do that? We do it cheerfully and by the strength God gives us so that in everything God may be praised through Jesus Christ. When we all faithfully function to our fullest potential; our church body will become healthier and more productive for God’s glory.

Let’s pause for a while and reflect on our own lives! Have we recognized the gifts that God has given us? If so how have we used those gifts, did we use them to serve others? Have we become the dispensers of God’s grace through our gifts? Have we brought glory to God through our gifts? Remember; whatever gift you may have received you did not deserve it; God gave it to you out of His own will; so that none of us can boast about our gifts. He gave those gifts so that we might work together in building His Kingdom in Quincy and beyond.

In closing, there are different members in the body empowered with different gifts by the same God who freely chose to give those gifts to us. The purpose of gifts has always been will always meant to be for serving one another and building up of the body of Christ. God desires that we all grow up, become mature and become men and women, by attaining the fullness of Christ and the completeness found in Him.  Let’s be clear on one thing; none of us can attain to that stature all by ourselves; we need each other in the body of Christ. We all are connected to the rest of the Body of Christ; God’s dream Team.

This morning before you leave this service, I want you to understand that God has a plan God has a plan for you and a place for you in His Dream Team. Don’t settle for less than what God has for you. Do you realize that you are part of a Championship Team? You are a part of His Body on earth, in other words you represent Him. You actually become His Hands, His Feet, His voice, His heart, His Eyes and His healing agent wherever you are, whoever you talk too…. What an awesome responsibility to know God’s plan and our part on His Dream Team. Amen


[2] Don & Katie Fortune, “Discovering your God Given Gifts”, page 37

Sunday, November 16, 2014

YOUR PLACE ON GOD'S DREAM TEAM: Part I (Romans 12:1-8)

            There is within each of us a longing to be useful, to be needed and belong, a desire to contribute to the needs of others in a meaningful way, a passion to be significant and make a difference in our society, a hunger to be part of something important and big. And yet we so often feel unworthy, unimportant, useless, rejected, inadequate and insignificant. Have you felt like that any time? Perhaps some of you are feeling like that right now. If you are, then you have company. In the Animated film (Antz 1998), the main character is Z-4195 (Woody Allen), or "Z" for short, a neurotic and pessimistic worker ant living in a wholly totalitarian society without any individuality. In his opening monologue, he complained about his insignificant life during therapy to his psychologist. Listen to his complaint: Play the YouTube clip. At the end of the session (Paul Mazursky), who was the psychologist, concluded their discussion with the statement that Zee had made a break-through: ("Yes, Z, you are insignificant"):

In this world unless you are an A+ type the system disregards you. Just like the worker Ant Z, the system can make anyone feel insignificant. But that is not how God operates. He sees everyone with value and dignity because all human beings are made in His image. In fact God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. We serve an unchanging God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His character and calling never changes. I would like to talk about, “Your place on God’s Dream Team. I was inspired by this teaching in a LEAD conference I recently attended. I met the speaker Tony Cooke and asked his permission if I could bring this teaching to our Church, and he said he would be honored if I did. So let’s begin by reading Romans 12:1-8, which deals with how to assess our true potential; how God looks at us and how He empowered us with gifts.

The Book of Romans is deep in theology and rich in practical Christian living. The first 11 chapters deal with the total depravity of man, God’s wrath, judgment, His faithfulness, Israel’s role in God’s plan of salvation, Israel’s disobedience and their eventual turning to God. At the end of chapter 11, Paul pronounces the Doxology, normally one would think that is the end right? That’s not the end of the letter, he dedicated the next four chapters 12-16, explaining how God has set us free from the power of sin, given us a new life and has returned us to a right relationship with Him and how we should live this new found Christian life.

Chapter 12:1-3 talks about our spiritual act of worship which is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.  Then he says that we must not continue to live the way we used to live before we became followers of Christ. We must break the old patterns of life. How could that be possible? The only way it is possible is by being transformed by the renewal of our minds. He goes on to explain how we can break one of the wrong patterns of this world which is boasting or arrogance or pride. He called the Roman believers to employ sober judgment when it comes to assessing their own capabilities. What is Sober Judgment?

“As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.” J.B Philips. Paul here is warning the Roman believers against arrogance. It is apparent that some in that church had more visible gifts and whereas some had gifts that were frequently done in secret.

Paul recognized that they were comparing themselves with each other, he wanted to warn them against continuing in that mindset. We live in a culture where a lot of people “Blow their own horns” They brag about their achievements and abilities. Have you been around people who boast about their studies, how many countries they have visited and all their great accomplishments, after a while it kind of gets tiring to be around such people, isn’t it?  I’ve heard someone saying, “You fake it until you make it” Really! It is common for us to measure ourselves against others. We do it constantly, how much money we make compared to others, how thin we are compared to others, what brand clothes we wear or what houses we live in, what type of cars we drive, and what leadership positions we have in the church.

Sometimes when we meet people in our mind we can be quickly tallying ourselves versus them to see who comes out on top. (I can remember at times doing this.) Whereas Paul here is saying to us that we are not to overestimate ourselves and become proud and look down on others or underestimate ourselves like the worker AntZ and feel insignificant, instead measure ourselves with sober judgment.  What does that mean? It means to have a sane estimation of our gifts, capabilities and weaknesses. People who are humble have a realistic view of themselves, they know their strengths but are equally aware of their weaknesses and their needs.

Obviously Paul is aware of this bragging, so he calls us to be wary of thinking too high of ourselves and our gifts. In simple words, he is telling us to stop tooting our own horn and let others speak well of us and our gifts. Let’s face it boasting is a BIG problem in our time isn't it? Consider the definition of "boasting or bragging": “talking with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one's achievements, possessions, or abilities.” Another word for boasting is arrogance which means,Exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one's own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner, showing an offensive attitude of superiority.”

What does God say about boasting? He hates it, Psalms 94.4 explains "They babble and speak arrogantly; All the wrongdoers brag about themselves." Psalm 5:5 “Boasters can have no standing in your sight; you abhor all evildoers.” (AMP) Proverbs 6:17, six things God hates and one of them is “A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others]

Boasting about ourselves is never from God but of the devil and of the world. “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”  I John 2:15-17 The Message

Let’s face it, what is that you think you have, that is not been given to you by God. When it comes to think of it, there is absolutely nothing. “Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]. James 1:17
All the gifts and talents we have, have been given to us by our father in heaven. We are to thank Him for those gifts and remain humble and use them to serve others in the body of Christ instead of using them to meet our own selfish needs. Sober judgment means not to overestimate or underestimate our capabilities. Underestimating is what many struggle with in this world.
Do you underestimate yourself, doubt yourself and you feel insignificant? If you do I have good news for you, you are not alone, you are in the company of a great cloud of witnesses whom the bible calls the heroes of faith, and they too have felt the way you might be feeling today. History tells us that God used people the most when, they came to an end of themselves and recognized that they couldn't do it on their own.

Here are some of the Biblical characters who felt they weren't quite cut for the job: Noah must have felt ridiculed and mocked while building the Ark. Abraham felt too old when he was told that he would have a son at age 75.  Jacob was afraid of his brother Esau. Moses said he was dumb and not eloquent in speech. Gideon said he was the youngest and his clan was the least among the tribe. Elijah after taking on 400 false prophets of Baal single handedly, ran for his life because of a threat from Jezebel, sat under a broom tree prayed that he might die.

What one thing was common among all these people? When they saw themselves from their own perspective and through the eyes of the system of their time, they felt afraid, inadequate, in secured, rejected, less important and insignificant. But God had a different assessment of them; he saw their faith, and the determination to follow Him regardless, that’s why Hebrew 11:6 reads, “God is not ashamed to be called their God.” I wonder what God would say of us today, would he be ashamed or proud of us?

In conclusion, sober judgment means to have a sane estimation of our gifts, capabilities and weaknesses. How do you assess yourself today? You may be wondering, I am an A type personality, and a high achiever is there a place for me in God’s Dream Team? Of course you have a place; God uses high achievers like the Apostle Paul who was a Harvard grad of his time. But there is absolutely no place for the boastful or arrogant in God’s Dream Team. Some here may be wondering well I am an average Joe; I don’t have all those degrees; I am just an ordinary person; is there a place for me; yes indeed; there is a place for you; and you belong.

God often uses broken people in fact we all are broken one way or the other. He uses the insignificant and the uneducated alike just as he used the Apostle Peter who was a fisherman. Unlike the championship teams of this world; there is place for everyone on God’s Dream Team; we will continue next week to find out what is “Your place on God’s Dream Team. Amen

Sunday, November 2, 2014


There once was a thriving little church in the country. Internal squabbles developed that tore the church apart. Attendance dwindled until the church died. It time a middle-class neighborhood grew up around the church. One day a newcomer, tired of looking at the run down church, started to paint & clean the old church. Some former members came by to watch. They sat in the old dusty pews and told stories about Sunday night hymn singing, or the pot luck dinners. Oddly, no one mentioned the squabbles.
They rolled up their sleeves, started to help clean up the old place. Leaders of the homeowners association laughed at the idea of a church in their community, but the old members persisted. Within weeks they resumed hymn singing and pot luck dinners. The church bells started to ring and the Songs of praise could be heard Sunday mornings and evenings. Folks in the neighborhood who had never attended the church began to come by. God saw it all and it was very good. Thankfully, that is not yet the case of our church, but if we are not careful what happened to that church could happen to our church too. However I have been sensing that the spiritual walls of our church have been broken down and we are trying to rebuild those walls.
Last week we learned how Nehemiah saw a similar scene when he returned to Jerusalem in 445 BC. Most of the city lay in ruin. The walls were broken and burned. He shared his God-given vision and the people responded. It all began, in the place of prayer. Nehemiah became an answer to his own prayer, not only that, he motivated an entire community to be part of the answer. Let’s continue from where we left and see how, a community of people rolled up their sleeves and rebuilt the broken walls of Jerusalem. It’s Time to Roll Up Our Sleeves!   Nehemiah 2:11-18
Upon hearing the devastating news of the destruction of Jerusalem, the place of his forefathers, Nehemiah mourned, fasted and prayed for several days to get a strategy on how to rebuild the broken down walls and the burnt down gates. He earnestly sought God’s favor. In the 2nd Chapter Vs 1-10 we see God’s favor by the way the King granted him letters to obtain safety throughout his journey as well as the needed material to rebuild the walls.  In Vs 11 we pick up the story: Nehemiah reaches Jerusalem after being there for three days, he gets up one night with a few men and examines the damage to the walls.
After the careful examination he comes before a group of officials, priests and the nobles and relates how desolate the city of Jerusalem has become been and how its gates were burned with fire. Then Vs 17-18, “Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace… They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.”  They said, “We’re with you. Let’s get started.” They rolled up their sleeves, ready for the good work.”  (The Message)                        
People roll up their sleeves for various reasons. Here are a few pictures of those who rolled up their sleeves. I am more impressed with a congregation who came together in times of crisis. Let me introduce them who stood undeterred in the midst of a natural calamity. Here is the photo of the congregation members gathering in front of the Carl Junction United Methodist Church in Carl Junction, Mo., on Aug. 7, hours after it was struck by lightning and burned. This is the second time the Carl Junction United Methodist Church has been destroyed. On May 4, 2003, a tornado wrecked the church as it tore through Missouri, ripping off the roof and destroying the interior.
After the 2003 devastation, one member said, “We all had one purpose in mind and one goal, which was to rebuild, to make the church stronger and better than it was before.” Lo and behold, the church was rebuilt and reopened in 2004, with a larger sanctuary and dedicated classrooms. Now, a decade later, the congregation must raise yet another church. Has the determination of the pastor and the congregation weaned? No way, this time, the church leaned on the rest of the community. The support has come quickly, as other religious organizations pulled together planned a prayer vigil for the congregation the day of the fire itself. One member said, “It’s going to be a start from scratch,” “But we can do it. We will do it.”[1]
This is just one example where a whole community came together to rebuild a burnt down church, literally from the ashes. By God’s grace we are not facing the same situation, however our problem has been the deterioration of spiritual health which is resulting in declining membership, and their participation in the life flow of our church. Six years ago we have launched a vision, “To build a diverse community that loves God and shares the gospel with people of all ethnic groups in Quincy and beyond.”
We felt that was the mandate of God for our church. How have we fared as a church since then? We have kept ourselves busy with ministries such as Sunday worship service; Kid’s church; Hospital visitation; Adult Bible Study; Wednesday Prayer meeting; Thursday Bible study; Media ministry; Missions; Hospitality and Community Friday Night. With all these ministries it seemed like our church was growing and thriving up until 2010, but since then we had one set back after another and we began to decline.  For a pastor that raises a red flag.
I sought the Lord for understanding in prayer. The Lord showed me that we have allowed certain factors to destroy the spiritual walls of our Church. So just like Nehemiah, along with the leadership of this Church we have been on a journey to assess the damage and strategically rebuild the spiritual walls of defense and protection. That’s why we have taken certain disciplinary actions, organized a Biblical Peace Making seminar, and formed a Church Health Team (introduce the team) which will be implementing a process, recommended by the Natural Church Development organization.
Having said that, no matter whatever the strategy that the leadership may have, that itself  cannot do much, unless the whole congregation rolls up their sleeves and join hands in doing the good work.  One preacher compared the New England churches to a football team where 22 players desperately needing rest, cheered by 70,000 fans desperately needing exercise.”
Thank God in our Church there have been a few people who tirelessly serve week after week, while others just don’t lift a hand I want you to ask this question, have I been a spectator, consumer, or an active participant in this church? If you are wondering what some ways that you might get involved, here are a few:  We need staff to revitalize our nursery, we need singers and musicians to strengthen our worship team. We need English teachers to team up with Leo in teaching English to the Chinese immigrants.
We need ushers, multimedia people, sound technicians, painters, and people to serve in the area of hospitality, people to set up and clean up after the coffee hour each Sunday and in other areas of service.
I believe learning lessons from the book of Nehemiah is a really important theme for us as a church at this junction.   Nehemiah is a great example in motivating a community of people in rebuilding the broken walls of Jerusalem. In spite of opposition Nehemiah, and all the people who said, “let’s roll up our sleeves and start rebuilding” finished the work in 52 days.
When we think of our Church, we need to be honest about where we are at, some of us have given so much to this church and you may have become discouraged and tired.  Others may have been attending our church for a while but haven’t yet gotten involved in serving.
I want to say to those who are feeling whether they belong here or not, there is a place for you to get involved, take the next step, and be part of the rebuilding of this community.  What do you think all the gathering and listening is for?  It is meant for you to grow in faith and Christian character so that you can put your hands to the good work of serving the Lord.
Can you imagine what this church would be like if we could all receive each other as dearly loved ones, and we are!!  What would we grow to be like if we could value and affirm the gifts in each other?  What if we could learn that it’s not all about me and my opinion but about the greater good, what if we could lay aside our annoyances and work together?
I am thinking of such an opportunity with the Christmas season coming up. What do you think?  Can we work together to celebrate Christmas in a way that brings us together as a Body?  Can we work together to touch lives with the love of God? I would love to see some of you who have started attending more recently, you have amazing gifts and experiences that you need to start using to build up this church!   You know what; I really think that a lot of growth takes place when we start interacting at the level of serving together. So is it about time that you roll up your sleeves and put your hands to the good work of God in this church. Amen


Saturday, November 1, 2014

ALIENS AND STRANGERS: I Peter 1:1 & 2:10-12


         "One day a space ship landed in the middle of a huge field just outside a small, rural community. The aliens looked friendly enough, so some farmers cautiously approached them, hoping to establish a good relationship with them. The aliens greeted the earthlings warmly and said, “We are on a mission from the planet Zuron of the galaxy Andromeda. We have been assigned to explore your planet and to discover what you have learned. We are here to learn as much as we can about the planet earth. So tell us, has anything significant happened here on earth that you can tell us about?”

The farmers thought for a moment and then one spoke up and said, “Well, we have radio and TV! We can send radio and microwave signals all over the planet using satellites.” The aliens replied, “Oh, well we have had that for thousands of years. In fact, that technology has become quite obsolete. What else has happened?” Again, the farmers scratched their heads and one said, “We have developed computers that can process information in seconds that used to take years. And these computers are small enough to be carried in a briefcase!”

“Well, that’s old news, too,” said the aliens. “Hasn’t anything extraordinary happened here?” The farmers were still thinking when one of the aliens asked, “We have heard a rumor that God visited your planet many years ago. Is this rumor true?” “Well, there was a man named Jesus Christ. He claimed.. “Yes! That’s it! Jesus Christ! Did he really come?” the aliens asked excitedly. “Yes,” said the farmers, “but…”“What an extraordinary thing! What a wonderful thing!” exclaimed the aliens. “Tell us, what did you do when God visited your planet? Did you bring gifts and throw them at his feet?

Did you run the streets celebrating and singing? Did all the world finally realize how much he loves them? Please, tell us, what did you do?” The farmers pondered for a moment and then sheepishly said, “Um…we killed him.” Chances are you may have seen one or two movies or TV shows about aliens. And these movies investigate the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial life forms. But did you know that the real aliens have already landed here on earth? Who are these real aliens you may ask. Well, that is a great question, tonight, I’m going to talk about the real aliens and strangers. I Peter 1:1, 2:11-12

Before we dig deeper a bit of background information is necessary to understand I Peter. So, what do we know about, the author, the theme and the context in which it was written?  As the title suggests it was written by none other than the apostle Peter. This letter was written around 60 A.D. Peter’s first letter is one of the seven general letters and is addressed to the five Roman provinces of Asia Minor. The occasion for writing was persecution in the area, and was addressed to Christians who were suffering for being Christians.

The letter was intended to encourage and equip the readers for the difficult times ahead. The dominant theme is hope. It was written to remind the believers in this world they are truly the aliens and strangers, while they pass through this life they are to put their hope in a more permanent world to come.

The hope found in Peter is the strong hope that rests not on man but on God, the living and the loving God who is known by his mighty acts. In this country we may not experience the same persecution other Christians are experiencing in countries like India, Iraq or North Kore, we may experience ridicule and humiliation for just being Christians and we hold on to different values and standards. The first letter of Peter helps us how to cope with when we are persecuted. Let’s begin our study.


Any good letter has three sections, the opening, the body and the closing. The First Epistle according to Peter is a letter, so this too contains an opening, the body of content and closing remarks. After asserting his position as the apostle of Jesus Christ Peter reminds the believers of their position. I Pet 1:1, “Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen.”  He reaffirms their position again in I Pet 2:11, “Beloved I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.”

When we read the Bible; at times we skip or gloss over certain words or passages. The Words Aliens and Strangers are some of them. The words aliens, stranger or foreigner occur over 150 times in the Bible. Peter employs these words twice in his first letter. Why did Peter call them aliens and strangers?

Let’s pause and look at the words “aliens and strangers and their intended purpose and meaning. In the Bible the word alien was used to distinguish the natives from the people of other lands and also show separation between the Jews and the non Jews. Peter addressed believers as aliens and strangers to remind them of the troubles of their forefathers in foreign lands. While they endure hardships they were to make the most of their time in that place by engaging the culture instead of isolating from it. But above all he wanted them to know that they were not permanent citizens of this world but belonged another world an eternal one.

Soong Chan Rah in his Book “Many Colors” explains the in-depth meaning of these words. “The words Aliens and Strangers may have a similar connotation but the words do not have the exact same meaning. Stranger means complete separation from the World. A stranger should have nothing to do with the world, may be even should exhibit hostility toward it. Strangers have no stake or concern with what is going on in the world, rejecting its systems.

Aliens however, would not necessarily imply being a complete stranger. In fact, one way of interpreting alien would be as an immigrant. An immigrant or resident alien interacts differently with society than does a stranger to that society. A stranger may seek to completely disengage from the culture, while the immigrant would seek ways to engage with that society. A stranger would take on the posture of Christ against culture while an immigrant may not assume such a hostile position.[1]

How do these words apply to us today? Ar we Aliens & Strangers? On two counts yes. Firstly we are aliens because we are living in a different country. Secondly, we are aliens because our citizenship is in heaven. The first part does not much explanation. So let me explain the second part of us being Aliens.

From the patriarch Abraham till today the heroes of faith in Christ have always lived as if they were aliens in this world. They have considered themselves as temporary residents or sojourners who are just passing through this world heading to a far more permanent place called heaven. Accordingly they lived simple and unattached lives on earth. It is said of them that they were strangers, and exiles on the earth…they are seeking a country of their own…they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for He has prepared a city for them.”(Hebrew 11:13-16)

When we are called to follow Christ we are called to an alien status. We are to live as if we don’t belong here. What a freeing thought that is? It frees us from all the unnecessary burdens we carry and all the entanglements we get ourselves into. It doesn’t mean we should not work or do anything for living and entertainment.

In fact we are called to seek the welfare of the city and pray (and work) for its prosperity where in which we will find our own prosperity. We are to be integrated in the society and not to be isolated from it. Being an alien doesn’t mean that you are so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly use. On the contrary as we wait for our heavenly city we have a job to do to make the earth a much better place to live. The world needs Christians living out authentic lives

We are not only aliens but also strangers. In the early Church people behaved rather strangely, in order to stay away from sin they would totally cut themselves away from the world and live in forests and deserts. The word stranger here doesn’t mean weird and wacky (acting crazy) it means detached or separated.

What are we to be separated from? Not from the people and not definitely from the world, but from sin! While we still live in the world we consciously make efforts to detach ourselves from sin. In Hebrew 12:1, we read, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that finders and the sin that so easily entangles. Peter explains how we are to live as we live here on earth as aliens and strangers, and as we wait for our Lord’s return. 

We are to live such good lives among the pagans. Through the way we love over wives, respect our husbands and raise our children in the fear of God. The way we do an excellent job at our work place. By the way we contribute to the needs of the community. By seeing our good deeds those who do not know God will glorify God. The early pilgrims were great examples in maintaining this status of both being aliens and strangers. As aliens they exhibited great work ethics as strangers they maintained high moral standards. So let’s resolve today to live like the Real Aliens & Strangers in this world. Amen

[1] Soong Chan Rah, Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, Page 68