The strapline of Faithroots is “What we believe affects how we live.” This is because Faithroots is first of all, a theological website. One of my aims is to introduce readers to good, solid, rich and challenging theology. But Faithroots is also meant to be a practical, pastoral site and I don’t think those two things are meant to be in contradiction.
In our early days we looked at a lot of Systematic Theology and if you check back those posts, now available as some of our publications here, then you’ll discover that we kept applying what we believe about God’s character, about the Trinity, about Creation and Fall to how we live: how we develop healthy relationships and marriages, how we face suffering, how we deal with addictions, our approach to work life etc.
Similarly, as we are doing a bit of “Biblical Theology” at the moment, I still want to keep coming back to those practical, pastoral questions. We believe that the unfolding Biblical narrative is to do with God’s people living in God’s place under God’s rule. How does that affect how we live?
In the last few posts, we’ve been talking about the theme of exile and we’ve just seen that whilst spiritual death is to do with banishment from God’s presence so that the exiled are no longer living in God’s place. This is good news and pastoral comfort.
At anyone time among my readers will be, those who have moved city to go to University, those who have had to transfer job, those called to serve God in a different place as Gospel workers, including cross cultural mission and urban church planting. There’ll also be those who have been uprooted from their church family because of division and problems within the church. Multiply onto those experiences of being uprooted and disrupted because of oppression and persecution to seek asylum elsewhere.
We must not underestimate the way in which such uprooting will cause great unsettlement and uncertainty. Some of you will be feeling deeply homesick. Saying goodbye to friends, family and neighbours will have felt something like an amputation or even a death. There’ll be pain and grief and that may well overshadow any excitement about new beginnings. Then there’s the anxiety involved in moving somewhere new, having to start afresh and perhaps without access to the resources that will make settling in easier. You may well even find yourself homeless -without a permanent physical home or even stateless if you are seeking asylum.
The take home from Biblical Theology is that we can either see this point in our life as a banishment, as exile or we can see it as being a journey that God has sent us on and that Christ is with us for. We may be leaving behind familiar sights and sounds and people we love but we don’t leave God the Holy Spirit behind. There is nowhere you can go as a believer where God isn’t there already ahead of you.
This can be a great comfort. Practically, what can we do when unsettled and uprooted? First, we can pause to pray and read God’s Word to remind ourselves that He is present with us. Second, we can find other believers around us, become part of a local church as a visible witness to the truth that wherever we are, we are part of God’s people and he is present with us. Third, we can begin to look around at our new surroundings through new eyes and begin to ask why it is that God has placed us here. He hasn’t banished us. He has led us to this place.