By Grant Norsworthy
I named my first (and so far, only) solo album “Resident Alien” for four reasons:
- As an Australian living and working in the USA, “Resident Alien” is my official status with the US immigration authorities. I have a “Green Card” but I’m not an American Citizen.
- While I feel very welcome and enjoy a good life in my adopted home country, I am a foreigner in the USA, and I feel like one. I live here, but I am different.
- But, having lived in the USA for about 12 years now, I feel foreign when I go home to Australia too. I feel like a resident alien no matter where in the world I go.
- As a follower of Jesus, I don’t believe I am supposed to feel completely at home and comfortable on this planet the way it is anyway. I’m not of this world. I am – we are – created for something else. Something better. Feeling that I am alien, even though I reside here, is a helpful reminder of my eternal purpose.
It’s like that saying that Christians often say, “In the world, but not of the world”. Or is it?
I was surprised today to find that the statement, “In the world, but not of the world” is not actually found in The Bible. I kind of thought it was!
“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” Jesus the Christ as recorded in the book of John in The Bible.
Jesus’ statement from John 17:14-19 (which surely inspired the formation of the snappy Christian-ese catch-phrase) has, in my opinion, been tragically over-simplified and misconstrued, leaving us with a misleading, passive image of what it means to be a follower of the Christ.
It seems to me that many are clumsily trying to balance “in the world-ness” and “of the world-ness” with the main emphasis of just making it through to a time when (we believe) we will be taken out of the world into eternity. But to do so is to miss the whole point of what Jesus is saying and what we are called into this world to do!
What do you think of this revised version?
“Not of the world, but sent into the world.”
Special thanks go to David Mathis. His blogpost inspired mine.
To listen to or purchase “Resident Alien”, click here.