Having never been to a christening and used to churches where you don’t have to dress up, one of my sisters tells the story of how she turned up to one such occasion wearing jeans, t-shirt and trainers. The rest of the congregation were dressed in their swankiest outfits akin to a wedding – summer dresses, their smartest suits, fancy hats and shoes. I’m sure we’ve all had occasions when we’ve been part of a group but felt like we stood out. Whether it’s wearing the wrong clothes, speaking the wrong lingo, behaving the wrong way or even believing the wrong things. Maybe we’ve even been excluded as a result.
As Christians we probably feel like we stand out. Our biblical beliefs and practices are out of kilter with progressive modern society. We are considered to be on the wrong side of history. One lady in our church, converted within the last decade, had a close friend who no longer wanted anything to do with her once she admitted to her conversion. Throughout the Bible we’re reminded that we live as foreigners, as people who don’t belong and as pilgrims who haven’t reached home just yet.
Within this edition John Stevens gives a very helpful analysis of the current situation in the United Kingdom and encourages us to see that standing out is the biblical norm for faithful believers. Though we might think it would be better to be zapped up to Heaven and taken out of this world, Sammy Davies reminds us that our prayer is for God’s Kingdom to come upon this earth and our longing should be for the new creation. Darran Dowey helps us think how we are to be serving God’s Kingdom with an eternal perspective.
These are just three of the excellent articles within the pages ahead that will help us as strangers and exiles. There are articles to encourage you, to inspire you and to challenge you; accounts from today and lessons from those in the past; tales of how God is at work locally and on the other side of the world. Before you read on, why not pause and pray that God would help you and do you good in your life for his glory?