The apostle Peter wrote, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11) What does Peter mean by calling them “strangers and pilgrims”? The terms used here refer to one who is residing in a country not one’s own, a sojourner or temporary resident. The Hebrew writer spoke of those under the Mosaic era saying, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). Abraham and his descendants were strangers and pilgrims in a foreign land prior to the land of Canaan being given to them by God (Exo. 6:4). The purpose of this article is to encourage all to have the “strangers and pilgrims” mindset as we live this physical life.
We all need to come to recognize that this physical life is just a temporary abode. “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). Solomon said concerning the time of our physical death, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecc. 12:7). When this life on earth has expired, all the physical things accumulated shall be left behind. Paul wrote, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out” (I Tim. 6:7).
We need to look for our promise land, as did Israel as they were strangers and pilgrims. The goal of our life should be an eternal home in heaven. Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul” Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). This life is nothing compared to the one that awaits the faithful child of God. It is for this reason that we should hold the “strangers and pilgrims” mindset, so that we might make the emphasis or goal of this life; that of reaching our true home, the one in heaven. Paul wrote, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2).
Let us be as pilgrims, passing through this physical life, but yearning for our home in heaven. Paul saw himself as such, for he said, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). Peter said that we should be “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God…” (II Pet. 3:12). It is not until we realize that what we make of ourselves or get for ourselves in this life is not the true goal; that we will begin to spend our time wisely seeking to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-20). We must use this life to prepare ourselves for the true blessings that are available for us, “…a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16).
We must prepare by first obtaining the proper relationship with God. We must become His children. John said, “But as many as receive him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, and when heard, believed and obeyed one is saved (Mark 16:15-16) and added by the Lord to His church which is His family (Acts 2:47; I Tim. 3:15). One is then and only then in the proper relationship with the Father to have an eternal home in heaven.
However, our entrance into the family of God and our entrance into the heavenly home seldom comes at the same time. Normally, we then have to continue this pilgrim pathway until death parts us from this life. That being the case, we must continue down the pathway of life while walking “in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4). One will have to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:9-10). Let us strive to help others that labor upon their pilgrim pathway. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire” (Jude 23). “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (II Cor. 5:11).
Friend, please recognize that you are just a strange and pilgrim passing though this life. This life will come to an end. The preparations you make now will decide if you reach your promise land or not. (Send any questions or commend to: email@example.com)