Fundamental to understanding the meta story of God is to recognize that with the fall and God’s redemptive story there are now two kingdoms at play on our planet. There is the kingdom of evil and the Kingdom of God and the two are at war with one another.

Consider the names given to Satan and his minions: “rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). Satan is the prince of one Kingdom. Jesus, however is the king of another kingdom and He defeated Satan on the cross once and for all, even though Satan continues to fight a rearguard war until Jesus returns to rule over all things. But make no mistake, he is defeated but not yet silenced.

Peter puts this in perspective for us when he writes that we are “strangers in the world” (1 Peter 1), and “aliens” (1 Peter 2:11). We were born into this world, but through our “new birth” (1 Peter 1:3) we are now “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9) who once lived in “darkness” (the kingdom of this world) but now live in “his wonderful light” the kingdom of God (1 Peter 2:10). We were born into one world – that ruled by Satan but are now citizens of a different world, that ruled by Jesus.

When Peter uses the word “darkness” to describe the world ruled by Satan and “his wonderful light” to describe the Kingdom of God he is contrasting the utter darkness of Satan and his rule and the magnificent righteousness of Jesus and His rule. As God’s people we live in the light but remain physically in a broken world.

Here, of course is the challenge. Jesus did not take us out of this world when He rescued us. This was intentional. As Jesus said in John 17:15-18, “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.” 

We were born into one world – that ruled by Satan but are now citizens of a different world, that ruled by Jesus, who has sent us back into the world with His message of hope, redemption and mercy. We are now called to join Jesus in the re-imaging of hearts gone bad and a world gone bad.

I am a third culture kid (TCK). I grew up on Hong Kong until I was 15 and then came back to the United States. I grew up in a culture that was not my home culture and then came back to my home culture which was not the one in which I grew up. I feel most at home in Asia but my home is not there. I live in the United States but it is not my heart culture. Thus the designation, a third culture kid. At 58 I still live with the ambiguities of growing up in a culture not my own and coming back to one not my own. I am torn between the two and like many others who grew up in a country not their own, I have to negotiate the two dissimilar cultures.

This is a picture of our own lives as we negotiate the culture in which we were born (the kingdom of darkness) and the culture into which we have been adopted (the kingdom of Jesus) and must negotiate the two until the day in which we see Christ face to face. It is not easy negotiating the two and yet this is one of the things Jesus showed us how to do in the incarnation. He demonstrated what it looked like to follow the Father while living in the Evil One’s world and in doing so how to be salt and light in that darkness. Jesus engaged the world as He shared the Good News of the Kingdom but he lived by the values of His Father rather than by the rules of a fallen world. He engaged with people but not with the mores of the world.

When Peter wrote his letter to Christians who had been scattered by persecution and called them “strangers in the world,” (1 Peter 1:1), he was acknowledging the difficulties of living as God’s people in a fallen world. He was also acknowledging the clash of the kingdom of evil and the kingdom of light and challenges of negotiating these two very different kingdoms. 

Some Christians over the ages have chosen to withdraw from the world and to see the world as evil. Jesus on the other hand showed us what it is like to engage the world and to see people as His image bearers however tarnished and what it means to join Him in ReImaging images gone bad. Jesus is not in the business of hiding but in the work of engaging and restoring.

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 discount on orders of ten or more.
  • Nov 04, 2014
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