Living as Chosen Exiles
“The end of all things is near.”
For some of you, the phrase may elicit anxiety. Coming off the year we’ve had, there has been a cacophony of voices and headlines giving credence to the sentiment, sustaining a tune of chaotic dissonance and collective exhaustion in this very strange and painful season.
However, the apostle Peter actually coined it first as a word of encouragement to the Church about the reality of the Kingdom of Jesus and the promised restoration of all things. Peter called these Jesus followers “chosen exiles.” They were exiles, not that they had been forced to leave their home necessarily, but because they were primarily citizens of God’s Kingdom even as they lived in the Roman Empire. And Peter proclaimed that they were chosen, meaning that God Himself had taken the initiative to call them into a distinctive community with a singular, missional vision.
The gist of Peter’s letter is that the “end” of all things affects the present reality of all things in every way. Whatever Jesus followers were going through—whatever hardship, suffering, conflict, or rejection because of their commitment to follow Jesus—everything (identity, purpose, future) was now seen through the lens of the Resurrection. This realization would bring comfort, encouragement, and a fuller perspective on the present even as it pointed toward the time of Jesus’ return when God would make all things right.
Peter reminds the Church (then and now) that they (and we) are in the restoration chapter of the story.
C. S. Lewis put it this way: “This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in;’ aim at earth and you will get neither.”
Or in the words of Ralph McCoy: “The End is far enough away to provoke diligence, close enough to invoke delight.”
We are living “Life in the In Between” as resident aliens, sojourners, and chosen exiles. The question then becomes, “How should we then live?” What does it mean to walk in the way of Jesus, to practice being the Church without walls (even as brick-and-mortar walls are being dry-walled and painted in the new house)?
Hopefully, by now you have had a chance to read through the Annual Report and watch the Annual Thank You Event, each telling stories of God’s faithfulness in and through the lives of His “chosen exiles” at Purdue. In each, multiple voices have added their perspectives to create a beautiful mosaic of provision and grace from the “broken shards” of all that was 2020. “The end of all things” is a story arc that cuts through the static, fear, and fatigue to bring joy-filled excitement and anticipation of all that God has ahead—not as “escapism or wishful thinking” but confident, humble, and Jesus-centered resolve to fulfill His commission to make disciples, bring healing and justice, and raise up a new generation of chosen exiles.
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” (1 Peter 4:7)
Rob Schrumpf, Lead Pastor