Living in a foreign land and dealing with a boiler repair man this week in a difficult language with mechanical words reminded me of the verses in the bible about aliens in the land. I was reminded of the Jews in exile in Babylon living as aliens in the land, not being able to practice their ritual sacrifices and traditions, having their identity stripped away from the them.

What is our identity? What defines us? What removes it? The Jewish Exile is a topic which I am currently studying and I feel a strong affiliation purely because God is giving me an understanding of what it is like to live outside your own, familiar culture and traditions. Sometimes I forget my differences and blend in and at other times my differences become starkly apparent and I feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.

1 Peter 2 speaks to those living Godly lives in a Pagan society, “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Leviticus 19 cites all the laws and then echoes the idea of treating foreigners kindly, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” Exodus 22 speaks in the same tone.

In God’s eyes we are to treat each other equally and with the love that he first showed us. Where is our identity? Is it in our lives, our cultures, our traditions and our values? Or should our identity be in Christ and in Christ alone? My point is that as Christians we are all aliens in the land. Our home is with him in his kingdom. So although I am living in a different culture and geographical place, what makes me an alien in the land is not my nationality and cultural differences but the fact that my hope is in heaven, in eternity. I am his and he lives in me.