“I don’t belong in this world,” the 88-year-old woman lamented, frustrated with modern technology. I empathized with the sentiment, although for different reasons.
No truer words have been spoken regarding the Christian.
Peter pointed out in the opening of his first letter that we are aliens in a land not our own. Indeed, we are strangers here. Because aren't we all Eden exiles?
In this vast, Christian diaspora, the scattered of God roam the globe until our final unification.
Your first thought at the mention of the diaspora, or “the scattering”, might be the various Jewish dispersions in ancient history (by the Assyrians in 722 BC, Nebuchadnezzar in 597 and 586 BC, or the Romans in 70 AD). But the diaspora is defined as the movement of a displaced or relocated population that shares a common ethnic identity yet maintain their traditions and religious practices. There were various deportations in numerous European, Asian, African, and Australian countries. And, of course, the expulsion of the Native Americans from their tribal territories into the Indian diaspora of the Reservations.
What was it the dispersed of Israel needed more than anything? A word from the Lord. In their distress, in a foreign land, they needed assurance God was near. God mercifully used prophets to deliver a promising word, encouraging hope in the hearts of those separated from their promised land.
We occupy these temporal tents outside our homeland, kingdom citizens in this wilderness God has visited, with the Word and the Spirit as our Guide. And yet we search for the place of promised rest.
Some, like Columbus, search for a new land. Believing there is another frontier to call home, they search the horizons . . . and the skies. “Yes,” I say, “look up!” Because the new home of our hope doesn’t require large sums of tax dollars, an expedition crew, or hi-tech equipment. Just Jesus. In fact, the Bible says, “Let he who is thirsty drink from the well without cost” (Is 55:1).
Jesus is the Door into the home He is preparing.
By His Gospel, faithfully and fearlessly preached, the persecuted church grew and spread—across history and geography. The scattered sojourners shared Good News from Home around this globe and expanded the borders of the kingdom-come, yet-coming.
The thought quickly convicts me that borders are not meant to be contained . . . limited.
I often lose sight of the breadth of the Family of God. I forget the bigger picture.
And neglect the reality of my true citizenship.
When I cast my gaze across the brotherhood, I quickly realize I’m blessed beyond measure to live the freedom Jesus purchased, reaping fruit of groves I did not plant, in a city I did not build, in relative comfort and ease.
The dispersed of God are to spread out even further—with the common bond of Jesus Christ uniting us.
In What is Biblical Theology, James M. Hamilton Jr. astutely proclaims, “The people of God are no longer a sociopolitical nation with boundaries. We are transnational. … We are from all nations.” He further summarizes the overarching biblical pattern of a growing, spreading kingdom. In the beginning, Adam was to multiply and extend the borders of the Garden. Later, God delivered the Hebrews to inhabit the land and grow the nation of Israel. Ultimately, Jesus sent the disciples into all nations, growing the kingdom and expanding its borders. All for the glory of God.
The same God Who gathered the exiles of Israel, “will gather still others to them besides those already gathered” (Is 56:8). It’s a rather expansive gathering, wouldn’t you say? All across this sprawling diaspora—held in the sovereign arms of an Everlasting Father, Mighty Counselor, and Righteous King—the dispersed disciples are graced with faith, hope, and love to carry one another onward.
Q: As a pilgrim wandering this world not your own, what helps keep you grounded in your true identity as a citizen of the kingdom?
Q2: How do we retrain ourselves to look at the identity of a person based upon faith over nationality—as God does?