The word used to describe people who are living abroad in a foreign country for a period of time is expat, shortform for expatriate. Our church is made up of many expats from a variety of countries. We all come together to share life on Sunday mornings. I am almost finished preaching a series entitled “Successful Expat Living.” I am trying to deal with the challenges we face living in a culture that is not our own.
The biblical metaphor that best decscribes an expat for me is the image of exile. Read through the Old Testament and you’ll find plenty of examples of people who lived in exile. The writers of the New Testament make it clear that all believers are really exiles. This world (wherever we live) is not our home. We are passing through. Now that we are believers we are citizens of heaven. Our values and conduct must then be shaped by our new identity. Conforming to the world is not acceptable. We are to be conformed and transformed into the likeness of Jesus.
I’ve been challenged to think about how the impact of the world shapes my thinking. I no longer consider Canada to be a Christian nation because I don’t think most values are adapted from a biblical world view. The world’s notion of right and wrong often runs counter to what we need to believe as Christians. Do you notice when you are being influenced by other values? Can you identify points of tension in your life between what you think the Bible says and what society says? Do you find it tiring? That’s because you live in exile, the world isn’t your home. As long as we live in earthly bodies I think we will feel the tension.
So, why not examine some of the famous Biblical exiles: Joseph, Ruth, Esther, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and some include King David while he was on the run. These individual stories were recorded for our encouragement and example.