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Strangers In Town

To God’s chosen strangers in the world. -I Peter 1:1 (CEB)

There is an episode in the old Andy Griffith show where a stranger shows up in town. He calls everybody by name, knows all about them. And it makes people nervous, even afraid. So they try to run him out of town, not knowing he had learned about them by reading the paper and decided he wanted to live there. His mistake? He tried to be one of them. He didn’t want to be a stranger but ended up being “strange.”

Your community has “strangers in town.” They speak a different language, have strange values, owe allegiance to another ruler. Who are they? They’re followers of Jesus, Christians.

Strangers and aliens

Strangers and aliens

Peter writes a letter to “strangers in the world.” The Greek term, paroikia, (translated “sojourner”, “stranger”, “alien”) became a regular term for congregation. It is the word from which we get “parish.” (Cranfield)

The Christian understanding of life has always been shaped by the notion of strangers in the world, of alienation, not belonging. They are “looking for a city.” Not because they are transients to life or because they can’t find total satisfaction for their souls but because they are different.

When that attitude is diminished, we loose power, effectiveness, and any right to call ourselves Christian (those who belong to Christ). In a conformist, politically correct culture it is important to keep the lines drawn, to resist the temptation to settle down, conform, become like them. The Bible urges “keep yourselves unpolluted by the world” (James 1:17).

Like the citizens of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, the world will pressure you. They will think it strange that you do not plunge in with them. Jesus even warned, “they will hate you.”

For those who call ourselves followers of Jesus, the question is “do we live up to the name Christian? Are we really “strangers in town”? Or have we settled in and become like them?

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