Wisdom from Culture Shock: Earthly Sojourner, Kingdom Citizen

Have you ever felt so out of place that you were reminded of being back in middle school? You know that super awkward feeling that you just don’t fit in, and you are way too aware of your every movement and thought? I’ve been feeling this way lately thanks to a little thing called “reverse culture shock.” My husband and I recently returned from serving overseas and now that we are back in America (and in the South) we are realizing the differences between our overseas culture and our “home” culture. We’ve also realized how much we have changed, grown, and learned about ourselves and others. We feel like we are straddling two cultures—not completely in either one but desperately trying to fit in and belong.

Maybe you have never experienced this or maybe you can relate. There are definitely humorous moments as we observe the differences between British and American culture; and yet there are very painful moments as we grieve things and people that we miss. As I’ve been working through this “reverse culture shock,” the Lord has been placing these verses from Hebrews on my heart:

“But they now desire a better place—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Hebrews 11:16

“For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.”
Hebrews 13:14

All of my life I have been familiar with the truth of being a “citizen of heaven.” But lately, this truth has been both a comfort and a challenge. I’ve been confronted by the question: do I really live as if I am passing through this world knowing I ultimately belong to a heavenly one? Because it’s easy to agree with these verses on a surface level but what does living like a citizen of heaven actually look like here on earth?

How should the fact that I am living for a “city that is to come,” impact my thoughts, relationships, and mindset? And does it change the way I relate to and love the city I reside in now as a sojourner?

I won’t pretend to have all the answers to these questions, but it’s something God has been challenging me with lately. This world may feel very permanent—the heartaches, sufferings, and sin–but as followers of Christ we live for a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. We long for a city that is to come. Knowing and reminding my soul of this truth helps keep my eyes set on Christ and not on this fleeting world.

As followers of Jesus, we are all called to live as sojourners here on earth, no matter what city or country we may find ourselves in at that time. But this doesn’t give us permission to live a solitary life away from the world. No, we are called to love the city (or small town) we are in as we await the city that is to come. Our lives should be pointing others to the King and his eternal Kingdom. So my prayer for all of us is that we would live with eyes set on the city that is to come while we continue to live a life here on earth that showcases the grace and love of our God.

About the Author
Amber and her husband, Eric Blais, have been attending and serving at Gospel Community Church since 2013. They have just returned from serving overseas in England. They have been married for 6 years and are excited to welcome their first baby in April 2020!

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