Elect Exiles

1 Peter 1:1-2, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
If you have ever been exiled, it probably made you feel rather the opposite of elected. The other day I was at the park with my daughters. There was a group of older children there and one of them, a boy, was upset because the others had said he was out of their “club” because he had refused to swear. He had not been chosen, he had been exiled.
The Jewish Christians Peter was writing too would have understood this quite well. They had been scattered abroad to other countries that were not their home. They lived, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did – as sojourners and wanderers in foreign lands. Peter uses that here to remind them of the fact that ultimately wherever they live on this earth, they are strangers here. For Christians might be in the world, but must not be of it. And no matter where we live, we are sojourners for heaven is our home. We are exiles. Exiles from the world because we are not like them, are not of them, and do not belong with them. That is not really because they have exiled us though, it is because we have been chosen and called out from among them by God. That is what the word “elect” means, that God has chosen you out of the world and called you out from them. This is what the Church is. The greek word “ἐκλεκτοῖς” (translated here as “elect”) has the same root as the word used of the Church. And so the Church has always been. We are at one and the same time, called away from the world, to be with God. We are called in the foreknowledge of the Father who decided in His own grace and good pleasure that He wanted us. We are called for sanctification by the Spirit to live differently than the world lives. We are called to obey Jesus Christ, to believe in Him and follow Him until death. We are called out to have our sins washed away in His blood.
And so we are different. And that might seem at times to be lonely. We might long in our sinfulness to be more like the world. But remember you are not just exiles, you are elect exiles! You are not different because the world has exiled you but because God has called you out from the world, to something much better. You are chosen. Remember it. Live it. Amen. In Christ Pastor Ude