Strangers and Aliens

[Written by Dr. Chris Peters]

A few weeks ago, in the men’s discipleship group I lead with 3 guys who are studying what the Bible teaches about the core beliefs of the Christian life, we came across the “heroes of faith” – chapter 11 of the Book of Hebrews. It reads, in part…

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

As I’ve mentioned in some comments and other written communication to our church recently, God seems to want to make sure Cross Creek Church remembers we should never get too comfortable with the things of this earth and this life. We can enjoy all the blessings of this life deeply and sincerely, and in fact, our relationship with God should enliven that enjoyment, but we also hold all things with a loose hand.

When the 100 year rain storm we had a few weeks ago flowed into the church building we are preparing to buy, it was a bit perplexing. After 12 years of growing to a place of having our own church facility, meeting at two area schools the first 8 years, and the last few renting the church building we are purchasing, you would think we would have no trouble remembering we are strangers and aliens in this world… but I know I easily forget.

God knows best, even in what appears to me to be setbacks or frustrations. Thanks to Parkwood Church of God we have a temporary space and will have the joy of coming back into a building with new flooring and paint, but we can thank Him most of all for helping us remember what the church actually is – God’s people, not a facility; the ministries we have for outreach and our own growth, not an address on a map; the vision to Glorify God By Inviting All Into God’s Grace, pursued by Growing in Truth, Living in Community and Serving in the Kingdom, not a deed and title.

I’ve said before, spiritual Alzheimer’s is one of our chief problems – failing to remember what we know from God’s Word, what God has shown us in experience, what others have helped us believe. Let’s thank God these next 4-5 weeks while we are at a temporary meeting place, for helping us remember the nomadic life… the alien existence. And when we set foot on new carpet and new plank flooring, let’s ask God to help us also remember the good vision he has given to us as a church, to be salt and light to a hurting and fallen community and to invite others to experience the grace we have the privilege of receiving through the ministry we use our facility to pursue.

In a few weeks, I’ll have the blessing of staying up late 3-4 nights to teach a seminary course online for 40-50 pastors halfway around the world in a place where churches are rare but the Gospel is rapidly spreading. Just like church facilities are helpful in our part of the world for all the ministries of the church, they are likewise for the churches led by these faithful pastors. Limitations of resources, of government restrictions and of community persecution might keep these believers from having a building. Yet we have more in common with them, than we might presume. They, like us, stand in the light of the accomplished work of God in Christ. Thus we can all say together…

“For you have not come to what may be touched….but you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:18-24)