The Difference a Sojourner’s Lifestyle Makes to Settlers

Continued from Yesterday
“What is a Christian: How Should He View himself and His Mission? (part 4)

Today: The effect of a sojourners lifestyle on settlers

This disquiets the settler. He or she believes in Christ but still looks for fulfillment and joy in things, and experiences, and accomplishments, rather than in Christ himself—in the gifts of the Christ rather than the person of Christ. The settler often doesn’t like many of those called into the sojourner’s company. True sojourners generally do not come from “polite company,” and so they are often deemed a threat to the “security/comfort/convenience” crowd.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

The settler doesn’t always enjoy the company of the sojourner. They threaten his security. Their past lives frighten him and make him uncomfortable. Their tattoos and piercings and hair color and clothing and dysfunctional pasts are messy and unfamiliar. And the radical nature of their fervor for Christ, their willingness to live for anything other than comfort and security and convenience intimidates the settler’s cozy apathy. He has paid his dues. He wants a nice secure, peaceful homestead with predictable, if boring, neighbors, to live out his days.

 “Why do you spend all your time with the likes of them?” he says (in his heart) but rarely out loud to the sojourner.

 “I was once one of them, (and so where you if you only saw yourself rightly)” the sojourner replies, “but God has made us a happy band of travelers and promised us the riches of His presence. Come, join with us and live for the Master’s glory rather than your comforts. You won’t believe the freedom you find from the things you leave behind.[1] And your experience of His comfort will be far more secure than all that you try to build without Him.”

The sojourner knows that one day, we will all gather round His table, one family, one great people of God, united not by color or culture, nor by geography or party, not by musical preference or liturgical form, but by this one simple fact—we have been called into a sojourning family—the Bible says we are a new race, a new family of God (1 Peter 2:9). We were called into a family and a relationship we didn’t deserve by a God we didn’t love, to be a witness to a world we are sojourning through rather than settling in.

We can never forget Hebrews 11:13:

(Speaking of all the OT saints of God)
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

That is our destiny—strangers and sojourners now, but promise receivers with all the saints who have gone before and who will come after.

Why is this so important? Because: Only sojourners will risk everything all the time. Settlers will risk some things some times, and that, always and only after much deliberation and calculation. And the risk that he takes will always be weighed out against the amount of security, comfort and convenience that he will have to give up.

But sojourners will risk everything wherever and whenever it is asked of them by the Master. Their treasure is not in their settlement but in heaven. The struggle therefore, is for believers in Christ to fight the temptation to slip out of a sojourner mentality and into a settler mentality. It is a struggle that most of us lose every day. But it is a war that we must wage if we are to remain faithful to the Lord of Glory.

Congregations and individual Christians, living as settlers, will never inconvenience themselves in credible, sacrificial ways for those who are unlike them (ethnic peoples and cultures) because it is too big a challenge to their security, comfort, and convenience. Denominations and churches with a settler mentality will never sacrifice their places of honor in the community to speak out prophetically because their honor might be besmirched and jeopardized if they ruffle the wrong feathers. 

This is a “Great Wall of China” barrier to authentic gospel ministry in post-modern America, which leads me to the second concept that must underlie an authentic Christian self identity:

Tomorrow:  We are a “cross-bought and cross-shaped people.”

[1] Thank you Michael Card for your music and perspective.

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