Sometimes, I feel I don’t fit into this world and yet much of the time I feel I belong. Do you know what I mean?
I am an Alien, in that I belong to a different Kingdom with different values with an emphasis on loving relationships, family life, honesty, diligence, reliability, consumer resistance, good stewardship, quiet reflection, a growing knowledge of the Bible… But I have no real interest in the lives of celebrities. I am often shocked at the callousness of people. I am sick and tired of scams and frankly disillusioned with just about everything to do with politics. (But I still vote!) I am concerned about the absence of clear ethics as science and technology change our world at an unprecedented and ever-increasing pace. The love of money seems to drive everyone and everything and yet it is so shallow…
I am a Resident, in that the whole world still belongs to the One I follow: I am at home in His creation with all its variety and magnificence; His ways still work even in this corrupt society; marriage and family are wonderful gifts that I enjoy to the full; smiles and kind greetings, even to strangers, are often returned with the same. I am constantly surprised at the creativity and explosion of knowledge that enrich my world. Most of all I live with the expectation that this world will be renewed and I will be renewed with it!
I am one of the relatively few, in the history of life on this earth, who had the privilege to live in a social and physical environment that was virtually crime-free, economically prosperous and stable, with families that stayed together and a vast majority of people who agreed on what good character looked like. Everyone accepted that our sexuality was created for expression within a committed marriage and outside of that it was wrong. No one I knew took drugs and my friends and I grew up knowing nothing about that. Undoubtedly some people drank too much, but that was behind closed doors and we were largely unaware of that too. Pornography was simply unavailable and no one thought about locking the doors to their houses or cars.
Such was life in small-town, USA. Of course, I was just a boy living an ordinary life like so many around me, unaware of my privilege. That privilege undoubtedly sharpens my awareness of alienation today. I know how good life can be, even in this imperfect age. However, it does not just sharpen alienation, it also keeps alive in me a realistic hope that life can be better in this world.
The Apostle Peter was the one who coined the title phrase for these thoughts. He wrote to the “resident aliens” of the Roman Empire, first century Christians. The dominant society of Rome had many similarities to today and it is my persistent hope that followers of Jesus can and will think and behave much like believers of the first century. He wrote to them to strengthen them in spirit and in mind. Perhaps a thought or a report here and there in this weblog might have the same effect.
I have had another advantage: for more than 45 years I have had roots in the United Kingdom, but have travelled the world living with, teaching and encouraging young believers in scores of nations. I have driven overland to Afghanistan twice, have organised and led a walk from Germany to Jerusalem, preached to large churches and outdoor crowds of up to 100,000, slept on church floors and in parking lots, led teams of as many as 150 through nations in the Middle East, hunted with a small remote tribe in the Amazon—quite a list, now that I think about it. All those experiences and many more have shaped a perspective that might be different than most others.
My hopeful expectation for the thoughts, ideas and reports that follow is that they will encourage faith, provoke Christian thinking about important current events and issues and make discipleship possible and practical in our fast-paced and increasingly complex world. With these lofty aspirations in mind, I hope website will also be enjoyable!