In the last blog, I spoke of us as being pilgrims, resident aliens, citizens of a heavenly kingdom serving our King in our earthly outpost. I am mindful that I might have inadvertently made that sound more like exile to some of you. Sorry about that. All I really meant to remind us of was that we aren’t home yet.
But there is great encouragement in our pilgrimage here – for we travel not alone. Above all other encouragements, Christ Himself has promised to be with us, even to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:20). He said that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Though He often walks along the road with us as the unrecognized fellow-traveler, as He did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He nonetheless is not far off. We are never at such a point or place as to be beyond His reach, beyond His saving help, beyond His care, or beyond His gracious hearing of our prayers.
Moreover, He has knit us together in a fellowship with other believers by His Spirit. We are together one body – the Body of Christ – though many members, yet we are one Body. We are all partakers of Christ and interdependent with one another so that when one part suffers we all suffer; when one part rejoices we all rejoice. And Christ so identifies with His Church, His people, that when service is rendered to even the least disciple, Jesus counts it as service rendered to Him. The converse is also true: when we are persecuted for Christ’s sake, it is as if Christ Himself is being persecuted. Make no mistake – the Father in Heaven will vindicate and avenge His beloved Son, and therefore even the martyrs of the faith around the world lift up their heads in hope.
Perhaps Paul was getting at this strange “already, not yet” tension we find ourselves in as Christians. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account….” (Phil 1:21-24)
While we are here, we have His presence by His Spirit, we have each other, and we have assurance that we are here because He yet has purposed great things for us and through us. And when our days draw to an end here, we have prepared for us a far, far better place - a place in which we will be home at last.