138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
Have you ever felt alone, like an alien living in a foreign land? Having grown up as a global worker in Hungary, I know I have. The funny thing is, because I speak the language fluently and even look like a Hungarian, it wasn’t until I came back to the USA that I really felt like an outsider. Because of the vast cultural differences ranging from the pervasive use of sarcasm as a form of expressing love for one another, to the incredible number of choices in the bread aisle at the store, there is so much that is unique to our country. Adjusting back to American culture after spending so much of my life away from it was quite a challenge!
The feeling of isolation that I felt is not limited to those involved in international outreach. We live in a country of nearly 330 million people who are constantly on the move, so it’s easy to get lost in the crowd and feel alone, even in our own country.
Whether or not we realize it, many of our neighbors and friends feel like fish out of water in search of a place to belong.
Fortunately, Jesus understands our humanity and knows how it feels to be an outsider. He came from heaven to live among us; he was not accepted but rather mocked, tortured, and crucified. That is part of why God gave the nation of Israel these instructions in Leviticus:
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” - 19:33-34 (NIV)
Similarly, in 1 Peter chapter two, we are instructed to live above reproach since we are foreigners and exiles in this world waiting to go to our true home in heaven. We are told that through this conduct, those around us will glorify God on the day he visits us. Notice that in both cases God addresses the state of being an outsider, but instead of patting us on the back and telling us it is going to be ok, he points us to the fact that if we act on these feelings correctly, he will use them to pull those around us toward himself.
My feelings of being an outsider were not simply overcome by those around me reaching out, inviting me into their homes or accepting me for who I was. What truly helped me overcome this was the realization that we are all outsiders – aliens living in a foreign land. Our souls were not created to call this fallen world home, and so, God’s call in Leviticus is the same call as Jesus’ in Matthew 22. He calls us first to love God above all else, and second, to love our neighbors as ourselves.
He calls us not to focus inward, but upward and outward.
I urge you to do the same. When the next move or big life change happens, remember that we are all designed to be citizens of a greater kingdom. Stand out from the crowd by loving one another, no matter where you are, because our King first loved us.