The Battle of Two Homelands
"Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh,
which wage war against your soul."
– 1 Peter 2:11
I am loved of God. He loves me. I was chosen by God to be loved. He calls me by terms of endearment. Thank you, Jesus - for loving me. For valuing me so greatly - even though I had no value in myself.
Sojourner and exiles
This is not our homeland. The image is of a person of another land and culture, that must temporarily reside in a foreign context. The visitor must learn the customs and ways of the new culture enough to thrive and survive - but he never fully assimilates. He knows that his time is limited, and he longs for the day to return to his homeland. This is only a necessary, graceful, detour - it will soon be over. When the Israelites were in the foreign lands of Egypt and Babylon - they never forgot their true identity. They never forgot their native land. They leaned to co exist - they learned to be thankful - but there was no question that they belonged elsewhere.
It's like the feeling towards the end of a long family vacation. You've had fun, you've made memories, you're thankful for the things you've seen and learned - but it's time to go home. The sights and sounds of the vacation never confused you about where your home lies - you knew it was only temporary. Home is where you are headed.
As you travel abroad to foreign cultures - you will always encounter conflicting practices, laws and customs - contradictory to the ways of your homeland. Praying to idols, worshipping the dead, drinking blood, infanticide, state religion, eating dogs, contempt for the weak and infirm etc. During these times when you are pressured to participate in such practices - it is easy to resist when you remember the statutes and principles of your true home. What happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. What you have done will be found out on your return home.
So we must abstain … constantly. Of course it's easy to abstain from things that revolt us culturally (like drinking blood) - but what about the things that appeal to our passions and our flesh?
Thanks for the reminder, Lord - that when we are in proverbial Rome, we do not do what the Romans do. We must abstain, constantly - for the sake of our home and the ruler of our homeland.
The Passions of the Flesh that
wage war against your soul
God thank you for passion. Thank you for our flesh. It sure makes things messy - but without these shells, we would not be able to express and feel you and your gifts so deeply. But please teach me how to beat this body into submission. Help me to discern wisdom from folly. Help me to discern godly passion form fleshly passion. Help me to hate the sinful passions and desires of my flesh.
The picture is of a foreigner being enticed by the sinful, lustful, fleshly practices of another culture - and having to literally fight the temptation. The image is of a battle. A battle between two homelands: one of God, and one of sin. The brothel in downtown Phnom Penh luring the American soldier. The glow of the computer in the basement luring the homeschooled boy. The satisfaction of rage in a dad who has been pushed to the limit with his kids. Our flesh feels deeply, it actively pleads, it calls, begs, fights, kills. Unopposed, it will win.
Abstinence, as pictured here, is not a passive thing. It is not simply an easy choice to not do something. The battle imagery implies an active, conscious , ongoing, deliberate fight. We wage war on our flesh by remembering where we're truly from, and choosing to obey a deeper desire to honor our true King.
God - give me the ability to resist when my flesh is so strong, and your voice seems so faint. Remind me of my higher allegiance. Forgive me for pledging my allegiance to lesser things.