Sojourners

“Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”  First Peter 2, 11-12

…  11. Thus, mark you, should every Christian conduct himself here on earth, according to Peter. In the first place, he should know where is his real home, his fatherland. We learn this through faith in Christ, whereby we become children of God, heirs of eternal life, citizens of heaven. Accordingly, we sing: “Now we pray thee, Holy Spirit, for true faith,” etc., when we depart home from this wretchedness. This sentiment accords beautifully with the text here where Peter calls us “sojourners and pilgrims”–wayfarers in earthly wretchedness, desiring home and casting our thoughts beyond the gates of our sojourning-place. Second, though we must suffer this wretched condition in a foreign land, we are under obligation to render every honor to the host and to respect the inn, making the best of whatever may befall us.

12. The prophet Jeremiah found it necessary to give admonition of this sort to his wretched Jewish countrymen in Babylon who longed unspeakably to be home again and almost despaired because of having so long to suffer misery among strangers when many of their brethren were at home. Other prophets had encouraged them with the promise of soon being returned. Consequently many of them ceased to till the land and neglected to provide for a livelihood. To these Jeremiah writes (ch. 29, 10): “Ye must have patience, for ye are not so soon to return–not till seventy years be accomplished.” Meanwhile, though in wretchedness and captivity, they were to do as he bids in verses 5-7: “Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them. Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters: and multiply ye there, and be not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray unto Jehovah for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”
Martin Luther, “Third Sunday After Easter”, Epistle Sermons, Vol. II: Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost

Martin Luther encourages us to consider the sojourner, and the sojourner is us. Luther may need no introduction, being famous for posting the 95 Theses, which helped spark the Protestant Reformation. If things don’t seem as they ought to be, that is the normal state for the Christian. We feel as exiles longing for another country. Sometimes I feel contempt for kids who make themselves unattractive with Goth or punk culture. But then I read passages like this and realize the angst of these kids is the way we ought to be. Maybe the person to worry about is the one too well-adjusted to this twisted world. What are we to do with this angst? Luther encourages us to “respect the inn” and to pray for true faith. Meanwhile, we should build up the land where we now reside, despite any feeling of wretchedness and captivity.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, we long for another world. We are wretches and sojourners among strangers. Renew our hope in a better world. Let us bear with patience and forgiveness any wrongs or misery we suffer. Help us to find ways to respect the inn. Enable us to till the land, and seek the peace of this city live in for a short time. AMEN.

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