Opening Thoughts

“Christ Risen from the Tomb” by Bergognone, photo/courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

“Christ Risen from the Tomb” by Bergognone, photo/courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:9-13 (RSV)


This blog will focus on my sense of sojourning through a foreign land as an orthodox, Reformed Christian.  This sense has been a longstanding one with regard to the popular culture here in the United States. I am by no means isolated from this country’s entertainment, political and business cultures.  In fact, I am an active participant in them all.  Though many aspects of these cultures are troubling, I am accustomed to dealing with the challenges and benefits that they provide.

The love and support from my family provides indispensable resources upon which I continually draw.  I also find encouragement in my circle of friends.  The teaching and fellowship found in my local church have been essential to my understanding of the Christian faith and spiritual growth.  So, although there are many troubling issues as I travel through this foreign land, there are also many sources of strength and comfort.

It seems unavoidable that an orthodox, Reformed Christian will to some extent find this world to be a foreign land.  After all, Jesus Christ spoke regularly in these terms.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  (Matthew 6:19-21, RSV)

Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.”  (John 18:36, RSV)

Christ’s first disciples surely must have experienced the most profound sense of being sojourners in a foreign land.   These people had seen the risen Lord, conversed with Him, touched Him, and then watched as He ascended to heaven.  They were left to do all that Christ had commanded in this broken world even while they knew with greater certainty of heaven’s existence than anyone before or since.

The author of Hebrews speaks for these first disciples of Christ and for all who have followed.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go.  By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.  Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it 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.  (Hebrews 11:8-16, RSV)

We do not know just why God has called us to journey through this foreign land.  It is not our place to question God’s actions, but rather to be faithful witnesses to His truth wherever we find ourselves, confident that His good and perfect ends will be accomplished.

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