God's Foreigners

In January of this year, I was honored to preach at Metro Atlanta Presbytery (area PCA leaders). Thanks to extra efforts by ChristChurch Presbyterian's media team, a video of my message is available from here [in a reduced file size, to download from DropBox].

I introduced the message with a reference to my "ordination in 1948.” But that was my birth year (I was ordained 30 years later, in 1978). That unforced error prompted some laughs. But God got the last laugh. The LORD had told the prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

I have "lived in" Jeremiah's message a long time. Over the past 20+ years, I've learned from foreign students who study on USA campuses. Even when internationals are not Christians, we can learn from them. I've even written a course on the topic of "God's Foreigners" found in the Bible.

I concluded my sermon by quoting from the Letter to Diognetus, an early testimony to the lives of the first Christians, observed by a sympathetic Roman official. Jesus' first followers had no legal standing or any political means to promote the Gospel of Jesus. But their lives were "living epistles.”

Portions from the Letter to Diognetus (downloadable PDF) are here. The complete ancient text (all chapters) is here. A photo from Berlin's Pergamon Museum of Babylon's Ishtar gate, through which the captive Jewish exiles were marched, is here.

I pray 21st century Christians (as "Christ's ambassadors") and local churches (as "kingdom embassies") will become God's resident-foreigners. God's people are sanctified to be sent and not siloed!

With the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1-11, 21, 3:20-21), let us love God and not grasp or cling to our personal rights, our social status, or our cultural privileges. Let us love and serve our neighbors as ourselves. Then we will become creative-redemptive minorities who will "sing the songs of Zion in a foreign land" (Psalm 137:1-4).

From @IntlBuzz