When I wrote my November update, I mentioned the Peace Dialogues a little bit and promised I would soon write more about my biggest take-away from the event. While there were many great talks about the obligation of members of both faiths to care for refugees, and examples from our books of God caring for refugees, there was a point I really held onto and had to keep processing. It was a point that both a Muslim Imam and a Christian speaker made, and it surprised me with both its profundity and its relevance to something I have been thinking about quite a bit recently. It’s this:
This statement shocked me, maybe because I have always spoken about refugees as someone other than myself. Maybe because we spend most of our time here talking about the refugee situation that the Sahrawi are in, so to include ourselves under that definition seems out-of-place.
I don’t know where in the Quran the Imam got this point (and he is well-read in the Bible so maybe he got it from there) but I have always loved a few of the Bible verses that give credence to this idea. Since I have lately been in a period of life where I move around the world and don’t have much of a permanent home, I have been clinging to this verse:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
The reminder that my citizenship, my home, is in heaven with God has been crucial for my well-being while I keep my roots from growing into any one specific geographic location! It allows me to make “home” out of wherever I am and easily adjust that word’s definition, since I know that I belong with God and He goes with me.
It makes sense then, if our citizenship is in heaven and we cannot be there right now, to call ourselves refugees. We are living in foreign territory, making the best of this time while our souls long for their home. And like the Sahrawi, we should base our lives around the hope and expectation we have of returning home, advocating for God’s Kingdom the whole time we are away. We have the opportunity to seek the city God has prepared for us, living and working in the hope of its glory.
For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)
All of us children of God are refugees then, awaiting a return to our kingdom. It brings a new sense of unity to my heart… I think about the way that the Sahrawi are united in purpose and heart, their freedom and return home being the most important thing in all of their lives. If believers in Christ all had God’s Kingdom as the first and foremost longing of our hearts, think of how much unity we would feel! We would truly sense our brother/sister-hood with our fellow citizens, now living, as well as those who are already “back home” where we belong. We would long to be together, advocating for our home and looking forward to the day when all is made right and our King’s victory is complete.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household. (Ephesians 2:19)
So hold tight, fellow refugees from heaven. Especially as the world continually reminds us of how it is not the home we long for, let’s spend our time away from home doing our King’s work in anticipation of His eternal glory!
Note: it is not my desire to take any importance away from the refugee crisis or from the people who are suffering real danger and needing to flee their homes. I support – and advocate for – sheltering and protecting those who are refugees in the world here. I hope that seeing ourselves as refugees from heaven will help us have solidarity with and compassion for those who are fleeing danger right now.
Posted on “Grateful Heart” over at Ember Grey.