I have just a short reflection on last night’s Living Room discussion on ‘Spiritual Exile,’ followed by some Scripture passages you can read and reflect on for yourself.
Following on from what Courtney spoke about last night, spiritual exile speaks to the spiritual separation or distance from God brought on by our own choice to do so. In this way, New Zealand is a lot like the United States. The idea that Christians are exiles in their own country – that which was once known as a “Christian nation” – is and has been quite popular for a while now.
Both countries for formed and established as we know them now by Christians – those seeking religious freedom from persecution in the UK (America), and those seeking to spread the Gospel to a foreign people (NZ) – and both now, not only face Church and Christian decline, but they are also largely secular in areas of government, education, and media. Thus, Christians in both countries (and probably in the UK too) have embraced this idea of living as exiles in our own country.
Now, that might resonate with you, you might find it cliche, you might even consider it disingenuous and offensive for people who are actual exiles from their home lands. Which ever way you think about it, consider these things:
The opportunity and shape of mission and outreach now, as opposed to what it was at the height of Christianity in NZ.
The triumphalist rhetoric and push of previous generations to “reclaim Christ for NZ,” or to “put Christ back in Christchurch.”
The effects due to “Those were the days” nostalgia.
Major cultural changes and the things that brought them about.
and consider these passages. Read and contemplate what they may have meant in the time they were written, and contemplate how they might be applied today.
Read and reflect, or discuss in a group. Perhaps, if you’re in a group, let each group take a few passages to read instead of all of them and then come back and share themes and thoughts together as a group.
1 John 5:19
1 Peter 2:9-17
Take notes of the themes and your thoughts as you read these passages either alone or in groups. If in groups, come together and discuss the themes and your thoughts on them. Discuss what they may have to do with spiritual exile. Conclude by reading Romans 8:38-39.
Discuss the difference between God’s love and spiritual exile – how can we be separated spiritually from God, but not be separated from his love? (Matt 5:45b comes to mind for me).