I read a great post from Russell Moore (president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention). You can read his post here. He was defending Christians who use the term “exiles“.
In the Bible, the Israelites were considered exiles because they had been removed from their homeland and taken to a foreign land. Moore says the fact that America is abandoning Christianity does not make us exiles. While most of us can see that our government is abandoning Christianity, that’s not what makes us exiles. The truth is Christians have always been exiles, even when the American government and culture endorsed Christianity. Every Christian on earth is living in a foreign land. This world is not our home. This hasn’t changed and won’t change.
Moore says, “The kind of exiles we are to be is not a bitter, resentful people, harkening back to better days, when we had more power and influence. We are to be instead those who know that the culture around us, whatever culture that is, is temporary. We are to pattern our lives not after nostalgia for the past but hope for the future. This means a (tension in our lives). We pray for the kingdom to come (Matt. 6:10). We groan with the creation around us for the end of the wreckage of the curse (Rom. 8:23).”
The hope for the future is more than personal prosperity & comfort or even the future of America. The hope we have for the future is the hope and the promise of an eternity with the One who created us and died on the cross for us. Yet, for a little while before the consummation of that hope, we are exiles. The fact that America is becoming a post-Christian nation doesn’t make us exiles, but does serve as a vivid reminder that we are. And it’s not that we wave the white flag and throw up our hands in defeat while we’re here on earth. We don’t give up or give in. We don’t allow ourselves to be depressed over our circumstances or trials. We keep on keeping on. We keep telling people about this hope and promise of a better world – and that better world is not a return to the past or an improvement of this world in the future. The hope for our future is literally “out of this world”.
So we hang in there. We keep raising kids. We keep living in this world. We keep fighting the good fight. All the while, doing our best to tell everyone we love and care about of this future hope. Our witness and proclamation is a large part of the purpose for God allowing us to be exiles in this land.