Hebrews 11:13, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth”

Have you ever felt uncomfortable, out of place, like you just didn’t belong? Perhaps you went somewhere in casual clothes, while everyone else was in more formal attire, and you felt rather conspicuous and out of it. Or maybe you found yourself in a group of people who were swearing or telling off-color jokes, and you didn’t quite know what to do or how to react. Or you go to a birthday party, but you are the only one who forgot to bring a gift. Or maybe the gift you brought is obviously the cheapest, and the recipient can barely hide their disappointment.

From time to time, we all feel conspicuous or out of place, like we don’t belong. That’s what happened to Bob Hoffman and his family after returning from Liberia. When they went to Liberia in 1989 to serve as short-term missionaries; they soon realized that this was a place where God was using their talents and abilities in a very special way. So, they decided to stay for a longer term as Liberia had become home to them. Then civil war broke out and hundreds of missionaries were forced to flee, including the Hoffman’s, and they returned to their hometown in Michigan. To support his family while awaiting a possible return to Liberia, Bob went back to his old job, teaching in a Christian school. The surroundings were the same as before, but he felt out of place, like a stranger. His heart was across the Atlantic Ocean in Liberia. In a similar way, if our heart is in heaven, we will not see this world as our permanent home but as a temporary one.

Further reflection:

Abraham was a pilgrim and a great man of faith, who interceded for Sodom and rescued Lot. We, His children who are in His Family, are commanded to be a part of God’s Rescue Squad. We are the ones who throw out the lifeline, and who fulfills our part of the Great Commission as commanded in Scripture. Many of us have been strangers at some time in our lives, newcomers to a certain city, community or country. I can remember feeling as a stranger while serving in the U. S. Navy and living in Naples, Italy. However, after living for awhile in a place, people usually become more and more comfortable. They adjust, and may even adopt some of the customs and traditions of their new home. In time, they no longer feel like strangers.

However, Scripture warns us not to become too comfortable here on earth. We are told in Romans 12:2 not to be conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. The Bible does not promise us comfortable lives; however, it does teach that our lives on earth are temporary, and that, spiritually speaking, even when we are in the world we are not to be molded and become part of it, because our home is in Heaven. We are just pilgrims passing through this world on the way to Heaven, and as such we should live our lives as though that is where we really believe we’re going. The faithful men and women of Hebrews 11 were called “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” By faith they had caught a glimpse of a heavenly country for which they longed (v. 16). Its strong pull kept them from becoming tied to earthly values and priorities (as it should with us), and it provided the motivation to be faithful on this earth in their work and service for Jesus Christ. So, my dearly beloved brethren:

(1) Does your heavenly citizenship do the same for you?
(2) Or, have you been conformed to this earth and become like the unsaved?

The Christian life is a pilgrim journey, not a pleasure trip.