Living as Strangers

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

— 1 Peter 2:11-12      


Tangier, Virginia is located on Tangier Island in Chesapeake Bay. Though a popular vacation destination, the town’s official population is just over 700. Many of the residents can trace their ancestry back to the first European settlers. Due to the town’s historic isolation from the mainland, it developed its own distinctive accent.

Tangier is also unique due to the residents’ strong Christian convictions which can be traced to Methodist revivals in the early 1800s. This led the residents to reject slavery in the 19th Century, and even today no alcohol is sold on the island. In 1999 the town council refused to allow a Hollywood movie to be filmed there because of drinking, profanity and nudity in the script. The rest of the country might have jumped at a chance to host the movie. But not Tangier. The people of this small town stayed true to their convictions.

As Christians, we often find that we don’t quite fit in. The world thinks we’re strange because of the activities we do not participate in, but they’re even more bewildered by the unusual activities we do participate in—like loving our neighbors, caring for the poor, praying for our enemies and dedicating time to worship.

Being an outsider is extremely uncomfortable, but the apostle Peter challenged us to resist the urge to retreat. We’re to risk boldly putting ourselves out there. We’re to engage with culture. Why? Because when Jesus left perfection to come to earth and live in our sinful culture, His unusual love changed the world. We are called to keep sharing that love so that our friends and neighbors will glorify God.

Today’s One Thing

Ponder the ways you are like the world around you and the ways you are different. Are the differences drawing attention to Jesus in a good way? Choose one way your good witness could be increased and then do it.

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