A couple of years ago, at the funeral for my paternal grandmother, the minister delivering the service shared that, before her passing, my grandma had told him that she felt like she didn’t belong in today’s world, anymore. As someone born between the two World Wars, and having seen an unimaginable amount of change, it is natural that a world of technology and all manner of other crazy things would seem foreign to her. She and my grandfather never got a computer, never owned a smartphone, and lived simple, contented lives for more than 90 years each. (This is a good perspective to me when I wonder if my laptop is getting outdated!)
However, my grandmother was also a woman of faith, and in that sense, she could also appreciate that this earth was not her eternal home. After living through decades that included wars, recessions, and chaos, this was clearly not the environment spent in Heaven that Christians anticipate. Even today, a casual look at the daily news regularly confirms that this is not the eternal home that Jesus left to prepare for His followers.
Many of us have probably heard John 14:1-3 (if you haven’t, just follow the link), and we think about that passage when we consider that this earth is not our eternal destination. On this topic, though, I also like the following passage from Hebrews (and, see also John 17:13-19).
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.
Hebrews 11:13-15 NLT
In addition to waiting for something better (even as we live a blessed life of service and gratitude here on earth), followers of Jesus aren’t expected to fit the mold of the world in several ways:
- John 15:18-25 – Because there are those who hate Jesus, having set themselves against His authority (as well as His observation that they are sick with sin and need help), we can expect that some will hate us when we behave like Jesus and share His teachings. On the other hand, the abundant life that Jesus offers is pretty great, along with the superior path (both here and in eternity) that He gives us. So, for those who hear Jesus out, His message is appealing, and those who choose His path get to reap the benefits of doing so.
- Romans 12:2 – We aren’t supposed to remain in our sinful lives (from before we met Jesus). There is a mental and spiritual transformation that takes place. Rather than doing what fallible human beings tell us, and just conforming to fit in, we are expected to completely change our point of view. When we see God’s purpose and His plan, and we observe how He loves us and has shown that through His work in our own lives, we look at a lot of things differently from other people.
- 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 – Followers of Jesus become something brand-new. It’s no longer the “same old same old”. Instead, there is a fresh, fulfilling opportunity to finally live as we were intended to, enjoying God’s directions for the best life we can live. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows, but even challenging situations start to make a lot more sense in the context that God offers to us in His word (the Bible).
So, if you feel that you don’t fit in, don’t stress about it. If you are a follower of Jesus, and have committed to Him as your Savior and Lord, we’re not expected to fit in, here in this fallen world. We still have work to do, but it’s OK if we aren’t popular all of the time, or if we don’t behave like those around us. In fact, looking different from the world around us is probably the point of why we’re still here, by helping others experience the same kind of transformation that Jesus made in our lives.
And, for those of us who look forward to an eternal home with God (verified by Jesus’ resurrection, and secured by the confirmation of the Holy Spirit), may we also look forward to seeing those who have gotten there before us, including my grandma who finally left a world where she no longer belonged (even though she had a purpose and many blessings here), and headed to one that is much better!
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.