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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Temporary Residents

Today is day two of Greek Exegesis. "Exegesis" is basically short-hand for looking at a passage in Greek until your blue in the face. Okay, it's not really that bad. We have been going through the book of 1 Peter verse by verse to translate the Greek and learn how words function in that language.

One meaningful observation has been on the phrase "strangers and aliens" used in I Peter 2:11 and referenced several other places in the book. I remember running across this wording as a kid and thinking it was kind of cool that following Jesus made me an "alien." But beyond this, the general concept I had was that believing in Jesus made me, and anyone else, out of touch with this world.

The full meaning is much better. For instance, the term first gets biblical mention in Genesis, when Abraham describes himself as a stranger and an alien, living in the land of foreigners. It is an important note, though, that this is exactly the place God has led Abraham. He has become a stranger because God put him in that place for a reason.

By the time Peter writes this letter to scattered believers in present day Turkey, "resident aliens" has become an entire social class of people are on the move, usually to find income in tough times. This was much different than a move in our culture, though. Such a move made them a "second class" citizen who lacked many of the rights that land-owners and natives would enjoy. They had to do their best to live well in a place not truly their home.

Peter refers to believers, and ultimately to us, as these "temporary residents." I like this rendering of the phrase more than stranger and aliens, because it emphasizes that we are indeed residents. Between the cross of Christ, and the glory of God's coming kingdom, we reside here. But our time is temporary. We have been led by God to be in specific places, to integrate as best we can into society in order to bring about change. The instructions Peter gives in the following verses reminds us, as temporary residents, how to spend our time,

"I warn you, as temporary residents and foreigners, to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world." (I Peter 2:12-13)

When we pursue the things of God, and willingly live for him, we make a difference, even if others may at time misunderstand what we do. Continue in honorable behavior, and others will see.

May you know that on this journey, you are a temporary resident.


1 comment:

Chrispy said...

Exegesis was my favorite class in college. I love studying the bible that way so much that I have to remind myself when doing devotions that I don't have to dig so deep to get stuff out of the passage for the day.