rebelling against low expectations

Encouragement for Exiles: Living as Citizens of Heaven


Part of being a Christian means experiencing a tension, a pull between the immediate realities of daily living and the ultimate reality of eternity. Being in the world, but not of it. Redeemed, yet still facing temptation, still witnessing evil, still mourning for the lost, still reading tragic headlines, still watching friends get hurt, and still struggling in our own sin. Secure and content yet waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises.

The world feels less like home every day. Because it is not home. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are sojourners and exiles in a world that did not understand Christ and does not understand us.

There are a thousand things that cause us to forget that: school, work, busyness, social media, politics, trials, sadness, disappointments, hopes, fears, expectations. To live, we must keep the right perspective and remember what Scripture says about this small slice of time we find ourselves in. These are just a few reminders:

1. Know where your strength comes from.

“Did we in our own strength confide

Our striving would be losing

Were not the right Man on our side

The Man of God’s own choosing.” – Martin Luther

We are weak and powerless to change many of our circumstances. It’s true. And if we trust ourselves, this will quickly become a burden too great to carry.

Becoming wearied by sin and the world is normal. We are not expected to make it through alone. Weakness is meant to make us rely on God, Who supplies every need.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7

There is nothing we will go through that Christ did not first experience. He was tempted, He suffered, He mourned, He hurt, He hungered, and He was hated.

He understands. We can come to Him in prayer and trust that He will lead us through.

2. Remember your homeland.

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” – Philippians 3:20

If we try to make this world our home, we will be bitterly disappointed. Plans fail. Comforts fade and disappear. Uncertainty always seems to be lurking around the corner.

What Christians seek today is not different from what God’s people have always looked forward to. It’s not a perfect life here and now. It’s the future promise of an eternal kingdom ruled by Christ, which will not be shaken by unwise decisions, sin, and tragedy.

Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are counted among the faithful who understood this. Hebrews says they were seeking a homeland, but not one that could be seen. They were looking for “a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”

That’s what we need to keep our eyes on too. It doesn’t matter how chaotic the world becomes. Remember where your rest really is found.

3. Seek the welfare of the people God has put around you.

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” – Psalm 37:3

No matter where we are—whether our life is going well, or our dreams are falling through—we are called to live faithfully. There is a way to be faithful to God in every situation. In Jeremiah, the Israelites taken captive to Babylon are told to make the most of their exile:

“Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” – Jeremiah 29: 5-7

The exiles were to pray to the Lord, be faithful with what they had, and go about ordinary life in a way that would be a blessing to the nation they were living in. Christians are similarly told to pray for their neighbors, leaders, and country:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” – 1 Timothy 2:2

Make the most of where you have providentially been placed by loving the people immediately in front of you. You don’t have to wait for things to change. Just do the work God has set before you, regardless of what is going on.

4. Hold fast to hope.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23

The confession of our hope is the gospel! We were rebels deserving death and eternal judgement. But Christ took the punishment we deserved on the cross, so that all who put their trust in Him can be forgiven. We don’t need to fear death. The God who raised Christ will raise us at the end of our lives, and we will enjoy eternal fellowship with Him. He is the fulfillment of everything we could ever need or desire.

That is such a comfort! One that should motivate us to live like Christ and to tell everyone of the salvation He offers.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58

5. Love the church.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

Christ loves the church, so we should too. The church is the body and bride of Christ. Individually, we are parts of the body. That means we need one another.

The body of Christ is so connected that Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

Being part of a church is essential to living as a Christian. Jesus said that our love for one another is how people will know we are His disciples. We need to serve others. We also need others who will be there to speak truth, encourage, and advise us.

6. Make it your aim to please Christ.

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:9

We would rather be home with the Lord, but we are not yet. So, knowing we will appear before Him, we focus on serving others and sharing the gospel—not worrying about pleasing the world but pleasing Christ.

That’s what Paul tells Timothy: keep your eyes focused on Christ.

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” – 2 Timothy 2:3-4

7. Rejoice!

“Joy to the World, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ;” – Isaac Watts

Rejoice! No matter what trials we face, our biggest problem—eternal separation from God due to sin—has been solved. It is finished. Sin is conquered. His promises are true. We have been made His friends.

Because the King has already come once, we have a certain salvation. Because He is coming again to rule in perfect peace, we have a secure hope. So we wait. And we wait with joy, because we know His word is true, and we have been blessed beyond imagination. And even now, Christ is on the throne, reigning over heaven and earth.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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About the author

Katelynn Richardson

has been spellbound by language ever since she was young and has since become an English major at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. You can find her sharing book reviews, original poetry, life adventures, and other writing related thoughts on her blog, Stories and Starlight. You can also find her writing on Weekday Walk, a website she started to help equip Christian teens and young adults with the confidence to live faithfully each day through discussions on theology, apologetics, and culture.

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rebelling against low expectations

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