“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11–12, AV)
After being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army, I was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 33rd Armor in the Federal Republic of Germany. Even though, the people there were considered a western culture, it was somewhat strange living in a foreign land. Their dress and some customs were much different than ours in the United States. We, as service personnel stuck out like a sore thumb. All the local population could pick us out in an instant.
One of the things we as officers were keen on was to make sure that our soldiers conducted themselves properly when they were off base. Of course, this was virtually impossible to do since we could not keep an eye on everyone when they left the post. So, the Army had something called the Uniform Code of Military Justice and a company grade court martial called an Article-15”.
It so happened that one night two of our soldiers went into a club downtown, stole an undergarment from one of the dancers, and brought it back to the base. The German police got wind of the situation and sought to arrest the two. However, since they were in the Army, they came under our jurisdiction. We proceeded with a company grade court marshal and reduced them by one rank. In and of itself, their actions were bad enough. Yet the most serious part of their actions was that they brought disrepute upon the United States Army and our country.
Peter here addressed the believers as “strangers and pilgrims.” The fact is that we, as believers, are strangers in a foreign land. We are citizens of heaven and are on assignment here in a fallen world. The Scripture indicates that “we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20, AV). We live here and represent the kingdom of heaven on earth. This means several things for us. First, we must maintain the highest standard of righteous conduct in this fallen world. To do this we are to live by the principles of our heavenly kingdom rather than the principles of the world system. These principles are contained in the Bible. It is for this reason that we must read, study, and apply the word of God in our lives.
Second and closely aligned with our conduct is our good works. More than mere good conduct, we must seek to serve in such a way as to demonstrate the grace and mercy of God in a fallen world. Even though they may criticize us for our good conduct, when the unsaved see our good works God will be glorified. God may use our good works to bring others to faith.
Third, we are to proclaim the excellencies of our heavenly home, the kingdom of God. We are to proclaim with our words God’s glory, His mercy and grace to those outside the faith. We are to speak of Christ and His work on the cross for us. Of course, all of our words are moot if we are not walking by faith as citizens of heaven.
So, remember that you are ambassadors for Christ. Live, serve, and talk like one. In doing so God will be glorified. Be a good foreigner.