How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? Psalm 137:4
The Apostle Peter addresses his first letter “to those who reside as aliens.” (NAS) This is an apt description for the sojourning Christian who’s not truly at home in this world. I’m one of those people, a member of that colony by the grace of God.
Theologians Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon wrote a book titled Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony in which they reflect upon culture and assess Christian ministry in today’s world “for people who know something is wrong.” I named this blog after their book, and it’s my hope that this blog will be at least a dim imitation of their more profound work.
Besides the New Testament, the earliest Christian writing we have is what is commonly called Clement’s First Letter. It begins: “The church of God, living in exile [emphasis added] in Rome, to the church of God, exiled in Corinth.” The Greek word for exile (I’ve read–I don’t know Greek) implies a colony of aliens without full civic rights. Fortunately, in America we do have full rights, but that doesn’t change our status as strangers and pilgrims here. We’re stuck in a kind of betweenness and becoming.
I have never been able to locate the exact source, but I once read where Burke wrote about the French Revolution that “Freedom is the ability to do as one pleases. Let us wait until we see what it please them to do before we congratulate them.” What have we, the church of God living in exile in America, been pleased to become in our time of in-between? Will the One calling us home congratulate us with “Well done my good and faithful servant” when we get there?