If you know my husband, you’ll know he loves music. In fact, a number of years back now, he and some mates formed a band. I went to a gig last weekend and as always, I really enjoyed listening to them play and seeing the fun they have performing together. They call themselves ‘In Exile’.
A few days after the gig, as I made a start on some exam preparation, I just happened to find myself in the book of 1 Peter. And in the opening verse, Peter addresses his letter ‘…to those who are elect exiles…’. Coincidence? Or a teaching moment from God? I believe God wanted to encourage me. And in turn, I hope to encourage you.
So, what does it mean to be living in exile as God’s elect?
To be elect means to be set apart, distinct from the world. And as God’s elect, our mind-set and behaviour are to be different from the world. We have been rescued from God’s wrath and are called to now live in our new status as God’s children.
We are called to pursue holiness, to love one another, to bear witness to Christ. Peter urges his readers to “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the Day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12). We are to live a life that is attractive to others, that shines God’s light in the darkness of this world.
However, as you may have experienced, living faithfully for Christ leaves us vulnerable to ridicule and persecution. We ought not to be surprised by this. We’ll speak differently to others, have different priorities, and spend our time and money differently. When we follow God’s ways, we will be different from the world around us.
And that’s OK because this world is not our home. We live in a place that is not our home. We are exiles living away from our heavenly home. And so, we don’t fit in here. Yet, as we live as faithful witnesses for Christ in this place, we can look forward to the ‘crown of glory’ that awaits in the world to come (1 Peter 5:4). Life in the present can be lived in light of future glory. By fixing our eyes on our heavenly home, we can receive great hope and joy.
Before I close with some words from Peter, I should say that Josh and his mates chose the name ‘In Exile’ thoughtfully and intentionally, acknowledging that they too are exiles in this world on a journey to their heavenly home. And I should also say, if you ever get the opportunity to go and listen to them play, do it!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.” (1 Peter 1:3-6)