“So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” Hebrews 12:13-15
I’ve been researching new states and cities as I decided I needed to break up with Los Angeles, so I’m currently in home and city limbo. There are many reasons why I love CA and I love LA. But lately the reasons why I don’t, have overruled. I decided I wanted to find an environment that just felt kinder. A place that felt more down home, with real, authentic folk. Less chaos, less traffic, more wooded beauty. A place where decency isn’t out of the norm, but it’s expected. A place where the majority of the people smile at you when you walk by, and a place where just maybe it’s more acceptable for women to actually age or have hips. After a bunch of Google searches, I chose Nashville or Chattanooga, TN. They checked a lot of my boxes. Now I’m currently waiting to get there! I’m presently staying with my parents in Claremore, OK while I work to earn the money I’ll need to make the move and I’m job searching in those areas.
Claremore is not where I want to be, it’s not terrible, it’s just not the city I decided I want to call home. So I am here, but never with a feeling of permanency. I continue to look at and plan for my new life in my new area, while I wait, work, and live here.
I feel like a lot of us, myself included, forget that this world isn’t the end all and be all for us as believers. The city on this earth that we call home is only temporary, but we should be seeking and planning and looking forward to the city that is to come, that God is building for us. How would it look to be more heavenly minded on this earth?
I think we would begin to look different. We might not always be speaking, thinking, acting, or looking like everyone else. In fact, Jesus says that if we are following him, that we will not only be different, but we will be persecuted because of it.
John 15:18-20 says, “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. Remember the word that I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they kept My word, they will keep yours as well.…”
Reading all of this I feel convicted as I’m not sure there is a ton of evidence in my life to differentiate myself from anyone else. If you grew up in the 90’s era as I did, Christianity was very works focused, and I’m so happy to have learned of God’s grace and how I can continue to seek him, even in my sin and struggles, as our current Christianity boasts. But I think we’ve went to the opposite extreme and grace has become an excuse to live out all of our every whim, wants and desires — regardless if they are things that draw ourselves or others away from holiness, from seeing and experiencing God’s presence.
I’m definitely not arguing a case for a return to legalism. But maybe an honest look inwards and outwards at our hearts and lives. Are our lives resembling Christ’s? Are we ever outside of the gate or are we always on the inside, one of the cool kids? Do we or have we ever suffered for what we believe or for choosing the straight and narrow? Or is our path always wide and easy?
C.H. Spurgeon, in a 1858 sermon, burned more serious conviction with his words.
I do not think much of the religion of that man who is not put outside the camp. If you can dwell with the wicked, if you can live as they live, and be “hail-fellow well met” with the ungodly, if their practices are your practices, if their pleasures are your pleasures, then their god is your god, and you are one of them. There is no being a Christian except being shut out of the world’s camp. I can scarcely conceive it possible for any man to be a true saint, a holy man, one who is set apart unto God, and sanctified in Christ Jesus, unless he is reproached while on earth for being too strict, too Puritan, perhaps,sometimes, too melancholy. There must be a grave distinction between a Christian and a man of the world; and where there is no such distinction, or only a slight one, there is most solemn cause for suspicion that all is not right.
The radical call of Jesus to join him on the Calvary road — to go outside the camp and bear reproach with him — can always be caricatured and ridiculed and made to look foolish. It’s one of the easiest ways of escape. It’s very tempting. It makes you look clever. It makes Jesus look inept. And it frees you (for a few more deluded years) to go on in the way of an empty, shallow, comfort-seeking routine that some people call life. – John Piper