There’s a lot you can read these days on how to live your life. Prosperity, fitness, leisure, and power are all big-money industries, with books and seminars and trainers and life coaches. Many of my fellow Christians are living in pursuit of one of these lifestyles. We so easily are led to believe that money and beauty and power and recreation are the sources of joy.
In his first letter, Peter reminds us that all of these things are distractions at best. Here’s what he wrote in 1 Peter 1:17-19: “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
Peter points out several facts that should make us stop and think. First, God judges our work, what we do. We want him to look at our intentions, but he wants to see fruit. Second, God is an impartial judge, at least when it comes to our works. He’s partial to anyone saved by Jesus in terms of salvation, but when he judges our lives here on earth, he’s impartial. He won’t give us all the benefits of all the doubts that we give ourselves.
So, Peter advises, we shouldn’t live like this is home. We should instead consider ourselves foreigners. And we should live here in reverent fear, remembering that God has expectations and that one day, like little children who were told to wait until daddy gets home, we’ll have to explain ourselves face to face.
As a soldier, I think of it this way: we’re on deployment. We’re in foreign lands, here with a mission to do. It’s a nation-building operation, and the nation we’re building is God’s kingdom. But we’re only here as long as it takes to get the mission done.
Now, some deployed soldiers go native, find a local wife, and stay on when their tour is up. But most carry pictures of their boyfriends and girlfriends, wives and husbands, children and parents, and they look at them every day. Most call home whenever they can, video chat if that’s an option on their base, write letters when there’s not another option. They love the care packages that seem like a touch of the motherland. Most never forget where home really is, and live for the day they get to go back.
When I’m tempted to go native, Peter reminds me that one day I’ll be going home, no matter what I want. And on that day I’ll face a Father who will judge my work, not on how good a guy I was, but on how faithful a soldier I became.