But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy for I am holy.” And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning in fear. Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold, …but with the precious blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:15–17—NKJV)

Traveling is a wonderful way to experience the world. It provides a change of pace, a removal to unfamiliar surroundings, and an exposure to new and different cultures. There is nothing quite like foreign travel.

A believer recognizes that he is on a spiritual pilgrimage and it is not just a weekend away from it all. Though you have a native country, when Jesus Christ invades your life, you trust Him for remission of your sins, and claim Him as Lord of your life; you are born-again. In this newborn spiritual life you grow evermore cognizant of the fact that you are a pilgrim in a strange land. You have not just gotten away for the weekend and you have not just gone on vacation to some family-friendly destination. You have left your country, and for a long time!

This kind of an extended trip is analogous to the situation discussed in our verses. There is a fundamental difference between an authentically born again person and a good, perhaps religious, person. In the absence of a spiritual transformation by the mighty hand of God, a good person is born into his culture, walks on this earth, generally navigates his difficulties seeking to be faithful to whatever light he has, but is totally insensate to spiritual perceptions, divine promptings, deep-down refreshment from the riches of God’s Word, and is devoid of articulate confidence in God’s acceptance through the merits of the blood-bought redemption of Christ. He may find that the light he is following causes him to diverge from his fellow men from time to time, but he will always sense an affinity with unsaved men like him. This does not discount his friendships with saved men, but he will always grow uncomfortable when his spiritual discernment is questioned. Essentially, he has not left his country, nor does he really desire to do so.

When a man is born from above, there are a multitude of miraculous changes which go on in him. For starters, he has a new family identity. His Father is God and his brothers are others who have been born again. Doctrine becomes thicker than blood. He is implanted with the divine nature. Effectively, there is a cultural shift within him.

These changes cause him to begin to behave like someone traveling through a foreign land. He can never discount his “new” native culture, his citizenship of passport, his allegiance to his constitution, his newfound world-view. He is easily recognized as “not from around these parts.” Everything he sees and handles, he knows he must hold with a light grasp except for caring for the souls about him.

Peter uses two words to describe this pilgrim relationship. In 1 Peter 1:1 he uses a word meaning “to sojourn in a strange place.” In verse 2:11 and in our text above, he uses a word meaning “to dwell beside.” In each instance, the emphasis is on the fact that the believer finds himself out of step with the drumbeat of Satan’s culture and, without any effort on his part, his “national” heavenly identity signals to the lost world that he has a home far away on the shore of eternity. His is a holy culture founded by the blood of the precious Lamb of God and defined by God’s grace. Are you too cozy with your world and chasing after the cares and things of earthbound men? Remember the One who bought you, love what He loves, and keep your eye open for His return to take you to be with Him. Trust and obey.