Exiles feel the tension of remaining faithful to their own culture while being immersed in the waters of a foreign culture. The Church is no different as we seek to live out our identity as citizens of the Kingdom while living in the midst of earthly kingdoms. Clark explains that, because of our heavenly citizenship, our lives will have a certain level of otherness. This will inevitably lead to some awkward situations, but it is a necessary aspect of our calling.
(This article was originally published at the blog of Reaching and Teaching International Ministries. You should check it out for helpful resources on evangelism and missions.)
As Christianity in the West begins to lose some of its cultural influence, many Christians are wringing their hands in fear or anxiety. These are new waters for those who have grown up where religion has played such a key role within society. In Evangelism as Exiles: Life on Mission as Strangers in Our Own Land, Elliot Clark draws from First Peter, as well as his experience as a church planter in Central Asia, to empower us to live faithfully during these changing times. Clark’s solution to the shifting cultural winds is for the church to reclaim a sense of living as exiles—to live as those who faithfully wait on the return of Christ while living in a land that is not our own. This exilic life that is outlined throughout the book could be broken down into three larger categories.
A God-Fearing Hope
Elliot Clark puts his finger on the truth that keeps many Christians’ mouths shut when gospel opportunities arise: fear of man. For some Christians in the world, it is a fear of physical persecution, but for many of us, the fear that mutes us is one of rejection or shame.