Ewald Schmidt 

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11-12, NIV
Each one of us has a need to fit in, to belong somewhere. This makes the images coming out of the war in Ukraine so disturbing. It is terrible to see how people’s lives and livelihoods have been bombed out of existence. Millions of Ukrainians have become exiles, fleeing for their lives across the country’s borders. They have become foreigners in strange lands. They do not reside there; it is not where their hearts belong. They are only there temporarily and are hoping for a swift return.
The believers to whom Peter’s letter was first addressed had experienced similar emotions. They were rejected by their communities when they committed their lives to Christ. They were persecuted by the Roman Empire when they could not honour the Emperor as a god. They did not feel welcome in the places where they grew up any more. What gives one hope when facing such turbulent times? One needs a very strong sense of identity. One also needs to have the sense that one’s life still has meaning, and makes a difference.
Even when believers might feel like foreigners and strangers, yesterday’s message should remind us that we are the property of God – his chosen people in this world. He has gathered us from among the nations and has given us a new identity as his children. We are called to be light bearers in a dark world. He has called us to be the difference in this world.
The way we handle difficult times matters. We are living testimonies of the goodness of God. To be true to our calling, we need to be different to the world that does not know God. God has created us in his image to love him with our heart, soul and mind, and our neighbour as ourselves. With the fall of man, love became corrupted, moving away from the boundaries of God’s will. People became driven by their sinful desires. We are called to be different. We are here as the ambassadors of the kingdom of God. In these dark times, our lives should stand out as beacons of love, light and hope. By bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we are transforming the world around us. The goodness and love of God, reflected in our lives, may just be the inspiration someone needs to seek the Lord. Then they, too, will have reason to rejoice when Jesus returns!
Prayer: Lord, help me to remember that I am yours. Help me to walk your path with integrity and faithfulness, sharing your goodness and love with everybody I meet. Amen