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Just a Pilgrim, Passing Through (late Thankful Thursday!)

I feel a bit like an alien.

Not all the time, not every day, but some days and in some circumstances, it's true. In the times when friends look at me sideways for something I believe, or tiptoe around a topic they suspect we won't agree on, or guess my values based on the faith they think they understand, but rarely ask about. In times like those, especially lately, I've felt more and more like a creature—an unidentified praying object—some strange, archaic, incomprehensible thing, always on the outside of popular opinion.

In other words, an alien. In figurative terms. Has anyone out there ever felt the same?

It's hard not to find it discouraging, especially when it concerns the people we care about. It's hard to sit in a class discussing controversial topics that God takes a stand on when the world doesn't, knowing that defending His commands will probably mean making enemies. It's hard to hear God being mocked, or his followers distorted, while knowing that the friends sitting in the same room will absorb it all, unquestioning, neither hearing nor wanting to hear the other side of the story.

It's hard to feel like an outsider looking in—like the crazy gal in town with that crazy religion that comes with all those crazy ideas and—gasp!—an inflexible moral code.

But wonderfully enough, sitting here in my living room, God has touched me with a reminder that being aliens—outsiders, strangers—is in our job description.

In 1 Peter, a letter to Christians scattered abroad, they are called a "peculiar people," set apart, a possession of God. He exhorts them, as "strangers and pilgrims," to abstain from the ways of the world, to live honourably that through them, the world might see God not in the way they blend in, but in the way they stand out.

We are strangers in this life—in fact, we're called to be. This world is not our home, and out time here is temporary, a sojourn through a foreign land on route to our final destination. Following Jesus has never been about blending in, being agreed with, but about standing up for justice and righteousness in a world that has forgotten what they mean. We are strangers, plain and simple. Pilgrims passing through. And the short time we spend as aliens now is well worth the home that awaits us in glory.

So, yes, I am thankful to be an alien. And I will strive to be the best one I can be.

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