Spiritual Exiles

“To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)

When we are in exile, we want to change where we are. God wants to change who we are.

An exile’s solution to a problem is to be somewhere else. Home. This week I am a climate exile. Friday night about 11:00 at church, my car wouldn’t start. Jennifer and I spent about 45 minutes with cables trying to jump start it. I was so cold. This was a bitterly cold and nasty week. From my perspective, I am a climate exile. I am supposed to live somewhere warm.

Talk to climate exiles and their focus is on geography; where they would rather be—the wonderfulness of a different climate; the punishment of this one this time of year.

Exiles think the solution is a change of location. If your marriage feels like exile or your job feels like exile or your sick body feels like exile, the solution is a different marriage, different job, different body. We want to change where we are.

Then we read elect exiles foreknown by God. Peter doesn’t encourage them to get out of Galatia or Cappadocia and to come back to Rome. He doesn’t encourage them to flee their sufferings and problems. Why? God’s first priority is not changing where we are but who we are.

I think about trials that I have walked through in my life. A few of them made me want to run away. When you are in distress, anywhere seems better than where you are. We see the answer here in this passage: God’s first priority is changing us within; changing who we are; changing how we see ourselves and the world around us. He changes us by putting us in Cappadocia, the last place we want to be. There, in our exile, real growth and change can take place.

Might you be living in Cappadocia? Are you looking to book a ticket out ASAP? Hear the old apostle’s wise words and embrace the change within. Can you dare to pray, God, I want out and I want gone, but more than that, I want what you want. Use this exile and this trial to change me into the person you would have me be. Don’t you think God will answer that prayer? And maybe the reason he has you in Galatia is to get you to the point of surrender and trust and faith?

If there was ever an exile from home, it was Jesus, who left his heavenly homeland to live here among us and to learn obedience by the things he suffered. “Let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) May his example help us realize that God is behind of all of it and through all of it is working all things together for good.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

©2015 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

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