“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world …”
1 Peter 1: 1 (NIV)
Early church members were scattered because of persecution. They were going through lot of hardship which included displacement, loss of property and mental agony. Peter was writing this letter to them in order to encourage them to hold on to their faith.
Before he got into the reasons for Christian suffering and the hope Christians have in Christ, he prepared the stage by calling them strangers in the world.
Peter reminded the persecuted Christians that they were sojourners in the world. They did not belong there and thus could not expect better treatment.
Normally a traveler who is in transit cannot expect a homely atmosphere and comfort. He has to manage with the things available. He will always have longing to reach home.
Even with the comfort of hotels in the modern world, any frequent traveler would testify that home would always be home and no other luxury could replace it.
With this statement, Peter is telling them that their suffering is in line with who they are. They will be misunderstood and go through many trials. But this knowledge of who they are should help them to hold on to the hope that one day God would bring them home.
This encourages us. We are strangers in this world. We will have suffering and discrimination. We need to have the courage to accept this because we do not belong here.
This also warns us. Because we are strangers we should not have power, position and possession as our priority. Sometimes these earthly things overwhelm us and drag us down. We are called to be in the world but not of the world.
Let us be reminded every day and at every situation that we are strangers in this world.