“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”
as sojourners and pilgrims
Peter challenges Christians of Asia Minor to live out the Christian life. He makes his appeal on how we view ourselves in this world. He wants us to view ourselves as “sojourners and pilgrims.” This world is not our home. We are just passing through. Our home is in heaven.
“Sojourners” – those who settle down alongside non-Christians. This word comes from two words: alongside and house. It means to have one’s home alongside others. This is a person who lives in a foreign country where he has no citizenship rights. His home is somewhere else. He is an alien.
The word “pilgrims” comes from three words: alongside, upon, and pagan. This is someone who lives alongside pagans. He stays temporarily in a place that is not home. He is different from a pagan. Christians hold different values than those around them. These are Christians who live on earth temporarily for a period of time.
Christians are not citizens of planet earth. We are just passing through. We are citizens of heaven. We sojourn on earth. We are pilgrims passing through a foreign country.
Phil. 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
Because we citizens of heaven, we should live like citizens of heaven. God wants us to act in this world like we would act while visiting a foreign country. Whenever I travel to foreign countries, I carry my passport. My passport gives basic information about me: “Name: Grant C. Richison. Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan. Birthdate: ??!!” I go to foreign countries on a mission – to advance the cause of Christ where ever I can. God has placed you where you are to represent your home – heaven.
Before we became Christians, we were strangers to Christ (Ephesians 2:19). We were strangers to God and heaven. We had little inclination toward God. We cared less about God. We were strangers toward heaven. Now we are strangers down here. Now that we have become a Christian, we are strangers down here (Psalms 119:19). We have friends and relatives over there. Each year we have more friends over there. Some of us have more friends over there than we have here.
Note the order – strangers and pilgrims. Invariably we quote these words backward – pilgrims and strangers. However, we cannot be a pilgrim until we take our place as a stranger down here. Every day we are one day closer to home.
Christians fit into a different scheme and hold different values than that of the world.
We are not going to be here forever. We are not earth-bound. Why should we hold to this life so tightly? One day we must go. We can’t take it with us. We should hold things of this life loosely. Success and money will not make a big impression in heaven.
Are you homesick for heaven? Christians do not fit into the scheme of things down here. The world tries to force us into its mold. They do not like to be reminded that there are higher standards. We reject their values. We reject their philosophy of life. We march differently than the non-Christian because we march according to a different drumbeat. We are going in another direction. We do not belong here as our permanent residence. We are just passing through. We are out of place. We do not fall in line with the parade of this world. We are heaven-born and heaven-bound.
God leaves us here as light and salt. We are here to influence others for Christ. We do not want to go to heaven alone. We want to take others with us: father, mother, brother, sister, friends. The Lord might just as well take us to heaven now if we are not going to take others with us.