The second way Peter identifies the Church is with the image of “Exile.”
Just as Israel was driven away from their homeland and sent into the world of the Gentiles, so the Church is not at home in the world. We look forward to the return of Jesus, when he will restore and redeem a new heaven and earth.
Yet in Jeremiah 29, Yahweh gives his people a message and a mission as he sends them into exile:
Jeremiah 29:4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
While the world we live in is not our home, we are called to engage this world.
Church communities that are disengaged with the world around them are disobedient to the call of Christ.
We are called to be engaged with and honor our earthly country, even though our allegiance is to the Kingdom of Jesus alone (1 Pet 2:13).
We are called to be engaged with and honor our earthly families (whether they follow Jesus or not (1 Pet 3:1)) even though our identity is in God’s family alone.
We are called to be engaged with and honor our earthly employers (Col 3:22-24), even though we work for no one except Jesus.
The human inclination is to either become obsessed with this world and let it consume our identity (idolatry) or else disengage with the world in fear (aestheticism).
But as followers of Jesus, we find our life and identity in his love alone, and engage deeply with our world.
Be secure in Jesus and fearless in the world.