Have you ever had the thought, “Where am I? And what have you done with the world I used to know?” I must admit it’s crossed my mind more than once.
When I was growing up, the biggest problems in our schools were chewing gum, running in the hallways, and the only shooting that took place involved “spitballs” through straws. To talk disrespectfully to a teacher, much less confront one violently in anger, was unthinkable. The idea of someone coming into a school with guns and other weapons, seeking death and devastation, wasn’t on anyone’s fear monitor.
It used to be that comedians could comment on everyday situations we all could relate to, without resorting to heavy doses of profanity and vulgarity. They genuinely tried to entertain, not to demean or ridicule others, or to endorse a certain worldview. Funny people were, well, funny. And they left all of us feeling a little more lighthearted and better equipped for facing the realities of everyday life.
There was some degree of bullying in the world I used to know, and it was unacceptable even then. But these days, technology has driven malicious thinking, words and actions to depths we couldn’t have envisioned in decades past. How tragic that seemingly neutral tools, things such as computers, smartphones and social media, have become twisted into devices for hate and depravity.
The world I used to know was far from perfect, I’m fully aware of that. Society has made some important and positive strides forward. But today, “tolerance” has come to mean being favorable toward anyone who takes a “do whatever you want” posture, while being utterly intolerant of anyone who holds a view that some things just can’t be tolerated, accepted…or heartily applauded and endorsed.
It once was unfathomable that someone on a daytime talk show would denigrate anyone who follows Jesus Christ – and believes He can personally speak to them in a variety of ways – as having a “mental illness.” This, however, is exactly what one “celebrity” whom I won’t dignify by naming stated recently.
A Bible discussion I participated in helped to bring things into perspective. Several passages in the Bible refer to God’s people as “aliens and strangers” in this world. For example, 1 Peter 2:10-11 states, “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” (Another translation uses the phrase, “aliens and strangers.”)
King David wrote, “Hear my prayer, LORD, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping. I dwell with you as a foreigner, a stranger, as all my ancestors were” (Psalm 39:12). And in the book of Hebrews’ “hall of faith,” in speaking about those who through the centuries exhibited great faith, it says, “All these people died in faith, without having received the things they were promised. However, they saw them and welcomed them from afar. And they acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
This reminds me of lines from an old hymn you might remember hearing: “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue…. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
If we believe the Scriptures, we’re told this world is not the destination, just an interim stop – similar to a stopover in some city’s airport where we change planes so we can get to where we want to go. The only time I’ve been to Salt Lake City, Utah was like that. I didn’t even change planes; we just landed, some passengers disembarked, others boarded, and we were off again. (Looking through the jet’s windows, the nearby mountains did look beautiful.)
Carrying the “aliens and strangers” metaphor further, Ephesians 2:19 points out that once we become members of God’s eternal family, we change citizenship: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household.”
So as the political debate over “illegal aliens” continues to rage, we should recognize that from God’s point of view, we too are “aliens” in this world, neither legal nor illegal. We’re just a-passin’ through. What are we to do in the interim? In 1 Peter 2:12, we find our instructions: “Live such good lives among the pagans (non-believers) that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12).
So if we feel alienated at times, it’s because we are aliens, even though no passports, visas or green cards are involved. We can take heart by remembering, “our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at email@example.com.