his world is not my home; I’m just a passing through.”
The opening line of the hymn popularized by Jim Reeves in the 1950s is more than just a catchy tune; it’s a hope—an expectation of something much better. In a nation that has passed from tolerating sin to openly celebrating it, followers of Christ feel like houseguests that have overstayed their welcome.
Over the past 50 years, Islam and other false religions have moved from being tolerated to actively promoted, alongside a steady erosion of Christian freedoms. There has been an intentional push to remove Christian practices and symbols—such as praying in the name of Jesus and displaying the Ten Commandments—from the public forum.
Last September, an effort by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to remove “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency was lost in federal court, while various efforts to delete “one nation under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance have failed so far.
The American Center for Law and Justice “continues to represent students around the country whose constitutional rights are being violated by school officials that wish to squelch their religious speech,” says the group’s website (aclj.org). “Public school students retain their constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech and expression—including the right to wear Christian T-shirts and other religious paraphernalia.”
This June, after receiving a complaint from the FFRF, the U.S. Navy ordered that Bibles (placed by the Gideons) be removed from all hotel rooms on its military bases. Two months later, in response to protests, the Bibles were returned to the hotel rooms while the Navy’s “religious accommodation policies” were being reviewed, a Navy spokesperson told The Christian Post.
Ray Comfort and Emeal Zwayne of The Way of the Master faithfully preached the gospel outside the courthouse in Bellflower, California, for two and a half years, with an estimated 30,000 people hearing the message of Christ. This ended when a Los Angeles County judge issued a court order forbidding public speaking on the grounds of more than 40 courthouses in L.A. County, even though these are public grounds.
And remember how Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality being sinful started a firestorm as A&E attempted to banish him from the airwaves last December?
This world is not our home. . . .
Businesses owned by Christians with convictions against abortion and contraceptives are being forced to provide health insurance benefits that include these “services.” Employers must comply with these government mandates, regardless of their religious and moral convictions. The choice is clear: Violate your conscience and your faith, or face crippling fines.
The attack on Christianity is not revealed only in issues of religious freedom, but also in the way popular culture portrays Christians. Blasphemy is commonplace on television and in the movies. At the time of this writing, eight of the top ten movies in the box office contain misuse of God’s name. One of the remaining two films contains a smattering of other profanities. Popular sitcoms often feature “Christian” characters portrayed as buffoons, hypocrites, or intolerant prudes.
As our freedoms are eroding, our faith is maligned, and the name of our Savior is abused, we must remember that the Bible says this world is not our real home—not our final destination. Scripture calls Christians “sojourners and pilgrims” (1 Peter 2:11 NKJV), or “aliens and strangers” (NIV).
Many times, I have been privileged to journey overseas. As much as I enjoy international travel and ministry, it does not take long for homesickness to set in. My affections are on the things at home—my family, my own bed, my wife’s cooking. That is where I want to be.
As we sojourn through this world, our hearts should be focused on what awaits us. Our Lord is preparing a home with no sorrow, sickness, abuse, or persecution. There, His glory will shine and we will enjoy Him forever. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20 ESV).
Forgetting the truth that this world is our temporary dwelling will lead to despair as conditions continue to deteriorate around us.
Flavoring and Shining
As Christians, we are called to be “the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13). Salt is a preservative, and it makes things taste good. Salt also has healing properties. By the Lord’s working in us and through us, we help the world “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). Only His gospel will heal our land, and only His presence will preserve His people.
Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12), says we are “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). We are called to reflect His good- ness, mercy, justice, and righteousness through the power He gives us. He asks us to do “good works”—works born of the Holy Spirit—so people will see them and give glory to God (v. 16).
These instructions come after words regarding persecution. Jesus declared, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (vv. 10-11).
In the face of suffering, we must remember there is blessing. We are being identified with our Lord, who suffered untold persecution for the sake of His holy name and the forgiveness of our sins. We have the assurance that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
If our faith is mocked and our witness despised, we take hope in the day Christ will return for us. If our hope we’re only in this life, we would be “most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19). Our hope is in the promises of God. One day the cares of this life will be over. We will see our Lord and enjoy Him forever.
We must respond to loss of liberties by considering the sovereignty of God. He allows the things that trouble us. Things that shock us do not catch our Lord by surprise. He is weaving a tapestry of circumstances to strengthen and purify His church. He is orchestrating history to pre- pare the world for His return.
“Oh, I can’t feel at home in this world anymore” should be the refrain of every Christian . . . or perhaps John’s statement in Revelation 22:20 is more appropriate. Following the final recorded words of Jesus, “Surely I come quickly,” John responded, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
The psalmist David asked, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3). We can keep our eyes on Jesus. He is our only hope in the present and our only hope for our future.