My church has been preaching through the book of 1 Peter. One of the central motifs in the book is that believers are pilgrims, strangers, and exiles. Some take this as a mandate to refrain from engagement in the things of this world. A dense layer of saccharine piety is lathered on all their actions and their mindset is “not my home, just passing through.”
While there is an aspect where we are to have––like Jonathan Edwards famously said––eternity stamped on our eyes, this does not mean that our earthly sojourn is to be comprised of empty moral platitudes and ethereal spiritualism. We are to sojourn upon this earth with two feet in the dirt. Our hands should be calloused, our tables should be overflowing, our homes should be vibrant, and our businesses should be vigorously active.
Though Peter admonishes believers to live as pilgrims, they are also living stones, being built up into a spiritual house, and the cornerstone of that building is the incarnate Christ.We are not called to remove ourselves clean out of this world. Rather, we are to view this earth as the kingdom which Christ has redeemed and claims as His lawful possession. We are to labor to see His kingdom built up here on earth as it is in heaven. This is not merely an internal feeling, but the internal new birth should be externalized in our daily labor and life.
Note that though Peter admonishes believers to live as pilgrims, they are also living stones, being built up into a spiritual house, and the cornerstone of that building is the incarnate Christ. We are pilgrims building a city. We aren’t pie-in-the-sky spiritualists, but boots on the ground heralds of the good news of the Kingdom. That news has implications for slaves, citizens, wives, husbands, elders and congregants. The spiritual house we are building is the Kingdom of God here on earth. The nations may be hostile now, but they are going to be brought to repentance through the Gospel, or else they will be destroyed. Our pilgrimage is not idle piety, biding our time until we go to heaven. Our pilgrimage is to proclaim a new kingdom which shall fill the whole earth.