Being a Resident Alien for Jesus
January 21, 2021 | Didi Bacon
A theme runs through the Bible that hits me personally as someone born in one country but is now a citizen of another country. The theme is all over Peter’s first letter to Christians in the Roman region of Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. Check out the following verses (my highlights will make it easy for you to see the theme).
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. - 1 Peter 1:1 NASB
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. - 1 Peter 2:9-10 NASB
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. - 1 Peter 2:11 NASB
Jesus-followers are aliens and strangers in this world because we are the people of God. Jesus-followers belong to a heavenly country. We are just passing through this earthly country. We are guests in our earthly country who have been instructed by our king to bless her citizens. Just as our moms taught us, being a guest means we go above and beyond to honor our hosts. Traveling through this earthly country, we are called to leave the place better than we found it. One of the ways we do that as citizens of heaven is listed by Peter in 1 Peter 2 verse 13:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. - 1 Peter 2:13-17 NASB
What is Peter saying? He says that because Christians are aliens living in the world, they are to approach their earthly citizenship from that perspective. They are to abide by the laws of the land that protect and praise those who do right and bring punishment to those who do evil. They are to value (honor) all people without prejudice. They are to love those in their community of faith (brotherhood). They are to live with reverence to God. They are to honor the king.
Paul explains what honoring the king means when he says:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. - 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV
The people of God are to pray for those in government. I am to pray for him whether I like him or not. I am to pray whether I agree with her or not. I am to pray whether she is against me or not. As a citizen of heaven, I am to request heaven’s help for kings and all those in authority. There are no qualifiers added. It is what we Jesus aliens traveling home are called to do. This is the week the leaders of our earthly government will be in high profile. Pray for them. It is what our King has instructed.