Christians have always grappled with how they should relate to the world around us. Is the idea or category of ‘exile’ a good one for thinking about that perplexing relationship?
In this episode, Tony Payne talks with Phil Colgan and Lionel Windsor about what ‘exile’ means in the Bible, whether or not we should think of ourselves as being in ‘exile’ in our culture as Christians, and what difference it all makes to how we live in the world.
One particular part of the Bible we talk about is the now famous Jeremiah 29:7 and its call for us to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile”. Does this oft-quoted verse mean what people seem to think it means? (Hint: Phil says no.)
Links to things mentioned in the podcast:
- Details of our next CCL event on the dignity of work.
- Essays by Phil and Lionel on the subject of exile and Jeremiah 29:7
- The Matthias Media page where you can find books related to this episode.
Runtime: 36:23 min.
Monk: Pie Iesu domine, dona eis requiem. *Thwack!*.
Tony Payne: This is one of my favourite scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where a group of monks are walking solemnly through the village, chanting in Latin and periodically smacking their own heads with a wooden board.
Monk: Pie Iesu domine, dona eis requiem. *Thwack!*. Pie Iesu domine, dona eis requiem. *Thwack!*.
TP: So no one needs an excuse to quote Monty Python—especially such a classic scene. But it does have a link with the theme of this episode of our podcast: the Monty Python monks represent an issue in Christian thought and Christian living that has always been around and is debated still, and that’s “What is the relationship of a Christian to the world?” Now, it’s hard to imagine someone more cut off from the world than these monks: they’re dressed strangely, they speak a language no one else understands, and just to make sure that they don’t get too caught up in enjoying the experience of walking through the village and singing, they keep hitting themselves.
TP: Now, the classic Christian way of posing this question is “How are we to be in the world but not of the world?” In other words, how much are we to be in or engaged in the culture and in our community and in what goes on in our world, and how much are we to withdraw and separate ourselves from the world and regard ourselves as outsiders? And one way this question has been asked and debated recently is around the theme of exile. Is it right to think of Christian experience in this world today as being a kind of exile—like Israel and Judah’s exile in Babylon. Is our experience sort of a rerun of theirs, or, in fact, is the exile something that never actually finished and we’re still in it and waiting to be rescued from it? Are we in exile here on earth?
Now, as it turns out, even if we decide that exile is a good way of thinking about our situation (and we’ll talk about that in this episode), that still doesn’t solve everything, because people draw different conclusions from what it might mean for Christians to be in exile in some way. Some interpret it to mean that the hostility we are increasingly facing from our culture is only what we should expect if this world is not our home—if we don’t belong here, if we’re in exile here. And the best we can therefore do is to hunker down or circle the wagons or whatever metaphor you wish to employ.
Now, there’s another view that takes a completely opposite view—that rather than withdrawing or in any way of being afraid of our culture or our society as exiles living within it, we should instead be like the exiles of Jeremiah’s day and we should—
Man: “Seek the welfare of the city, where I have sent you into exile.”
TP: That is, that we should engage with our world—that we should seek the peace and prosperity—the shalom of the city that is our temporary home as Christians within this culture. Is exile the right way to think about it? That’s our theme in today’s episode of the Centre for Christian Living podcast.
TP: Well, welcome to episode 2 of the Centre for Christian Living podcast, brought to you from Moore College in Sydney, Australia. I’m Tony Payne, and if this is the first time you’ve listened to our podcast, and I guess there’s a decent chance that’s the case, let me tell you a little bit about what the Centre for Christian Living is. We’re a centre of Moore College here in Sydney, and our goal, according to the tagline, is “to bring biblical ethics to everyday issues”. That is, we particularly want to bring the theological scholarship and resources of the Moore College community to address the issues that Christians face every day in our life in the world. And today, that issue is exile. Is exile a fruitful way to think about our relationship with the world? And if it is in some way, how does that help us to live in the world as Christians?
I recently spoke to two good friends of mine who’ve been thinking and writing about just this question.
Phil Colgan: I’m Phil Colgan. I’m the senior minister at St George North Anglican Church.
Lionel Windsor: I’m Lionel Windsor. I’m a lecturer at Moore College in Sydney.
TP: Now, Lionel and Phil both spoke on this subject at the Nexus conference last year, which was entitled “Ministry and exile”, which, I guess, kind of assumes that yes, we are in exile, but that’s a question we’re going to have to come back to. They spoke at the conference and those conference addresses have turned into essays that are also now recently published, and I’ll give you the links for those later on.
I started the conversation by asking Lionel what exile is, exactly—what does that word mean and what does that theme mean in the Bible?
LW: Exile is an Old Testament concept that really it has to do with—it’s centred on the removal of God’s people Israel from their land because they sinned and under God’s judgement. So that’s, I guess, the central—that’s the basic idea of exile. Exile has to do with God’s judgement on his people. It has to do with being away from their land as well—away from their place. So part of his judgement is removing them from Israel to the surrounding nations so that they’re no longer under his kingship directly—they’re not longer under his rule—they’re not God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule. They’re more like God’s people outside of God’s place and under God’s rule over all, but actually under someone else’s rule and, you know, not directly God’s rule.
TP: Hang on. I’ve heard that before. God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule—that’s Graeme Goldsworthy’s classic description of the kingdom of God—of the big theme that runs right through the Bible. Now, does that mean that exile is a bigger idea in the Bible than just the exile to Babylon?
LW: Well, there’s a key exile—that’s the exile from the land and, I guess, you know, you could say that there’s one that’s spread out over a long period: there’s the Babylonian exile, that’s the key one. There’s also the exile of the northern kingdom where the northern kingdom—the tribes are really scattered amongst the—under the Assyrians. There’s other ways that the Bible talks about that are actually using exile kind of language. So, for example, way back in Genesis chapter 3, where the man and the woman sin against God, they’re in the Garden of Eden, and God drives them out from the Garden of Eden as a judgement for their sin, so they no longer have access to the Tree of Life. That is actually exile kind of language as well.
TP: So exile is one way of talking about the human problem of the fact that we’re all under judgement, that we all now live outside the garden, all no longer under God’s rule in God’s place as God’s people. So how big a theme is exile in the Old Testament?
LW: It … it is … it’s there a lot. Is Genesis 3 all about exile? You know, that, I mean—part of the problem there is that … you know, where do you stop? I don’t think it’s necessarily the primary way of thinking about it. God’s judgement is the key thing, and exile it—but it is there a lot, and that’s partly because much of the Old Testament is written describing, you know, Deuteronomy points forward towards exile, many of the prophets are talking about Israel’s sin and talking about the fact that they will go into exile, or prophets written in exile, Isaiah speaking about the imminent end of exile, there’s post-exilic prophets who are speaking about Israel who have returned from exile, and they still seemed to not be in a great situation. So exile is quite—is all over place in the Old Testament. To say it’s the central theological motif, I don’t think I’d go that far.
TP: So Lionel is saying that exile is an important theme, if not the most important theme, and as we come to think about how it applies to us, then, we can’t just jump straight from the Old Testament to us; we have to ask that crucial question, so to speak: how does Jesus come into the picture? How does what he came to do relate to the idea of exile?
LW: Just to say again that that is actually the right question to ask, because often that question isn’t asked. We often ask the question, “How does it relate to us?” without first asking about how it relates to Jesus. But actually, you’re very right, that the categories—the exile language is used most explicitly of Jesus. So when you start, you open up the first page of the New Testament, you get to Matthew, and Matthew has this genealogy, and in that genealogy, you read the genealogy, and there are these generations: there are fourteen generations—fourteen generations—and it actually says the exile is the key—that that is—there’s fourteen generations to an exile and there’s fourteen generations from the return of exile to Jesus. And so Jesus comes to a situation where exile is quite important, and he actually comes into that situation and it seems that exile is still actually happening. So you read in Luke’s Gospel—you read about people who are waiting for the consolation of Israel. And what’s the consolation of Israel? It’s—they’re waiting, I guess, for something like the end of exile They’re back in the land, they’re there, but the—one of the key hopes for the end of the exile was that God’s people would be not only in God’s place, but under God’s direct rule. Israel’s not under God’s direct rule. There’s all these other foreign enemies who are in there—it’s the Romans, basically, who are there. So they’re still, in a sense, under God’s judgement. They’re not experiencing the great blessings that were promised by Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets that would happen when they came back from exile. So in that sense, they’re still under God’s judgement and still waiting for an end of exile.
Jesus, when he comes, he talks about the kingdom of God being near and the kingdom of, you know, God as opposed to, you know—you look back in Daniel—as opposed to the kingdoms of the nations being in charge, God is going to be in charge. And then when Jesus predicts his upcoming death and resurrection, he talks about it in terms of being handed over to the Gentiles. And mocked and flogged and killed. So that language of exile is actually used of Jesus and it’s like he’s going through the kind of thing that Israel went through when it came to God judging them for their exile—sorry, God judging them for their sin. Jesus is under God’s judgement. Jesus is suffering that curse, which is actually described in terms of exile. So he actually by suffering that curse—that judgement of God—he actually takes that upon himself and he brings about the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God is in Daniel. The end of Israel’s exiled state—it is when God is actually in charge fully, and it is actually also in the Old Testament when new creation would happen: God would bring about his entire new creation. He would bring an end to sin, an end to death, he would bring about resurrection, he’d bring about new creation. And that is what happens in Jesus: in Jesus, God—there is new creation. Jesus is raised from the dead: he’s resurrected, he has a whole new body not subject to death, he himself is actually God’s kingdom and has brought it in. But only for one man—only for Jesus. In him and in that fully physical sense, God has brought about a completely fully physical new creation, but only in Jesus. So in that—in that sense of the physical new creation, the end of exile, experiencing all of God’s blessings—that is, Christ.
But as we continue to read the New Testament and as we see in the Gospels as well, we can actually be part of that by—not by political means, not by joining some country or, you know, moving around, but through God’s Spirit and his word bringing us to have faith in Jesus Christ to believe in him. So through faith in Christ, which comes about by God’s Spirit applying his word to us—that word of the gospel, the Bible talks about us actually being in Christ, it says, and in 2 Corinthians, Paul says, “Whoever’s in Christ, new creation!” That’s the literal translation. That is, new creation is actually whenever someone is in Christ, and we are in Christ by his word and his Spirit. So, in that sense, we ourselves are in that new creation—end of judgement, end of exile, if you like.
TP: So in Christ, we’re part of the new creation—we’re home. We’re in the place we really belong. The exile is totally over for him, and if we’re in him—if we’re united to him by faith and in the Spirit—then it’s over for us as well. Of course, it’s not over completely and totally for us: we’re in that new creation by faith and by the Spirit, not by sight. But it does seem like we have to be careful in saying that we’re in exile here and now, because in Christ, we no longer are in Christ: we’re home. But we still need to explore what life is like here and now as we wait for that home. And we’re going to bring Phil Colgan into the conversation to discuss that and in particular to discuss Jeremiah 29.
But before we do that, two quick things I need to tell you about: the first is that this podcast isn’t the only thing that we do here at the Centre for Christian Living. In fact, one of the main things we do is to run public events where people—usually faculty members of the Moore College community—speak on issues to do with Christian living, and our next event is on May 17th on the really important subject of work—of the dignity of work—where Moore College faculty members Chase Kuhn and Peter Orr will be speaking. It should be an excellent event. Go to ccl.moore.edu.au for all the details and we hope that we’ll see you there.
The second thing to tell you about is that we’ve partnered with Matthias Media to bring you some books related to our theme today. The first them is A Foot in Two Worlds by John Chapman, which explores this same theme of what it’s like to have one foot in this world and one foot in the next in our new home. And it’s written, of course, with Chappo’s famous clarity and warmth and humour. The second book, more recently published, is called Hope. It’s by Bryson Smith and it explores this incredibly important New Testament theme of what our hope or expectation is in the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ. And these two books can be found at a special page that Matthias Media has set up: www.matthiasmedia.com.au/ccl. Two other books you’ll find there on that page not related to our theme, so much, but related to one of our speakers on this podcast, Lionel Windsor, are two books about gospel speech. Lionel’s recently released two brief books that relate to how we speak at gospel people—one of them called simply Gospel Speech is a fresh look at the relationship between every Christian and evangelism and the other, Gospel Speech Online, is about what it means to speak the truth in love in a digital world—on Facebook and on Twitter and on all our social media channels. They’re excellent little books and you can find them on their page as well.
Monk: —dona eis requiem. *Thwack!*.
TP: Okay, so where were we? We were about to think about what all this exile business means for us as Christians today. Given that we’re in Christ and that we already belong to the new creation—to our true home, what does it mean for our lives now? And in order to answer that, I want to track back into the Old Testament for a few minutes to one of the most common verses or passages that’s quoted in relation to this question, and that’s Jeremiah chapter 29. Because, if you talk today about the experience of Christians in the world and what it means to live, as it were, as strangers here in this world—as exiles—one of the verses that’s very often quoted—more often than any other in my recent experience is Jeremiah 29:7.
Man 1: Seek the shalom of the city.
Man 2: Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into the exile.
Woman: Seek the peace and prosperity of the city, to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
TP: This has become something of a banner verse for many people today—a way to understand our situation as similar to those of the exiles in Jeremiah’s time—that we should seek the welfare and peace and prosperity of the cities in which we’re placed, because that’s our situation and our calling, and in their welfare, we will find our welfare. But is that really what Jeremiah 29 is saying to us? That’s what I wanted to hear from Phil.
PC: Exile finds its end in Christ. So there is a sense to which that what the parts of the Old Testament that are talking about exile find their end point and their fulfillment in Christ ending the exile rather than in us being in exile.
The reason people love using the exilic language of the Old Testament, and I think there’s a bit of a sociological reason for this at the moment, is because people are starting to feel like we’re in exile again—as if something has changed in the last 20 years. Where I think the New Testament doesn’t necessarily say that we are in exile; it says that we are—for all of the last 2000 years—to be aliens and strangers in this world. That’s the reality for Christians living in this world: we’re not citizens here, and this is to do with that union with Christ idea that Lionel talked about—that in Christ, we are citizens of heaven and yet here we are still citizens of this world in which we are refugees or aliens or strangers.
So it’s natural that people then want to go back and say, “Well, that’s what Israel were like, living in Babylon, and therefore anything that is said to Israel in Babylon is applicable to us, because, like them, we’re in exile.” I don’t think that’s quite the case. So when you look at Jeremiah 29, they are in a different situation to us. They’re in a short-term exile as a judgement on their sins, but they have a specific answer to when they’ll be taken home to Jerusalem. Our situation’s different to that. Our alien and stranger-edness is not as a judgement of God, it’s because of God’s salvation of us. It’s because we are no longer under sin, because of our union with Christ—because of the forgiveness we have in him. So we’re different to the world in that sense. If anything, it’s people who are not in Christ who are exiled from God still. And that’s what makes us aliens and strangers, because we’re not exiled from God; we’re citizens of heaven.
TP: So this is quite similar to what Lionel was saying—that because Christ has finished the exile and because we’re in Christ, we’ve got to be careful about applying the category of exile to us as Christians today.
PC: That’s right. The difference between us and the Israelites is they were in Jerusalem and they lost it because of their sin. We were in Babylon; we’re now citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, but we’re hanging around still waiting for the not-yet part of the now-and-not-yet. And that means we just got to be careful about just going back to exilic passages like Jeremiah 29 and saying, “Therefore, anything that was said to them is true for us”.
So the particular verse in Jeremiah that people talk about is that one of verse 7 of chapter 29: “Seek the welfare of the city”. In its context, when you look at it, that is not a general call to look after the wellbeing of any city in which you find yourself. It’s a specific call to the Jews of that time not to rebel, not to seek the downfall of the city, but when you look at it again, it’s for their own good—it’s so that they will prosper. And so the point of Jeremiah 29 verse 7 is, “You are the future of my hopes for Israel. You are the future of God’s promises. So make sure you multiply. Make sure you increase. And the best way to do that is for the city around you to prosper.”
We’re in a different situation to that. Our future is secure in Christ, so I think rather than looking to that verse to give us great direction on how we should live as aliens and strangers in this world, we should spend a lot more time looking at 1 Peter 2 and other parts of the New Testament that give us more direct teaching on how to live as aliens and strangers in this world.
TP: Well, here’s a novel idea: make the New Testament our focus when trying to figure out what it means to live as New Testament Christians. Read the Old Testament through the lens of Christ and into our situation as people who live on this side of his cross and his resurrection and the gift of the Spirit. But it seems from what Phil is saying not everybody applies Jeremiah 29:7 in that way.
PC: I think the way it’s particularly misapplied is a couple of ways, actually. The first is there—and the first is probably the least important way it’s misapplied—which is that it’s … that somehow there is a preference in God’s plan for cities, and so “Seek the welfare of the city” is bandied around. That’s why we should particularly focus on cities. There might be sociological reasons why you get more bang for your evangelistic buck planting a church in a city than in a country town. But there’s no biblical reason. And in fact, the point in Jeremiah 29:7 is not to seek the welfare of the city, it’s to seek the welfare of this particular place where I have put you at this particular time. So that’s the first misapplication. So when people use this as a reason why it’s better to plant a church in the inner south or west of Sydney than it is in Dubbo, I think that’s just foolishness.
But the more important reason is that people take this verse and then use it as a means for raising the priority of seeking the social, economic or whatever good of the city—up level with the priority of evangelism. And it leads to, or perhaps goes hands in hands with, an eschatological error, and so often you read commentaries on Jeremiah—otherwise good commentaries by evangelical brothers and sisters—and they will get to this verse and they’ll say, “Nowhere in the New Testament do we get such a bold claim to work for the good of our cities”, and instead of that triggering off in their minds somehow “Oh, that might mean I’ve got it wrong, because if Jesus didn’t make the same call, then in the New—and Paul didn’t make the same call, then perhaps I’m misreading it”, it leads to them say, “Therefore, go beyond the teaching of the New Testament and get your New Testament teaching out of kilter”.
And so I think when you carefully read it in context, you then realise that actually it’s not making a bolder call than the New Testament, and in fact, the New Testament puts us in a different circumstance to the Jew living in Jeremiah’s time such that the imminent return of Christ means our priority is not seeking the welfare of this fallen world, but our priority is seeing people find salvation in Christ. That is why Christ hasn’t returned, so that more people might have the opportunity to hear the good news, repent and believe.
And so when we’re—when people use this verse to say therefore that we have as a high a priority as gospel proclamation as—that as a high a priority is doing your work as an accountant or a bus driver or whatever else it is you do, or when they use it to say that seeking the good of the city in any way, I don’t think that stacks up with the New Testament, and we need to actually look at the New Testament where our eschatology tells us the imminent return of Christ means there is a priority for gospel proclamation. And so, if you want to seek the welfare of your city, go and look for the ways to do it from a New Testament perspective.
TP: So if it’s not really accurate or helpful to see ourselves simply as being in exile in the same way as Judah was in Jeremiah’s day, is there any sense in which the New Testament talks about our Christian life as being like an exile?
LW: There are … I’ve been helped by David Starling, who’s at Morling College, and some of the work that he’s done in exile in the New Testament, because there are places in the New Testament where exile texts—exile—the texts that come from Israel’s situation—exile in the Old Testament—are applied to Christians—Gentiles—in the New Testament. But it’s really important to see that—we need to be a little bit more careful than just saying “They’re just exile texts” because there’s two kinds of exile texts: there’s beginning-of-exile texts and there’s end-of-exile texts, or imminent end-of-exile texts. Jeremiah 29 is a beginning-of-exile texts—or about-to-beginning-of-exile text—that is, God’s saying, “You’re going to be there for a while, settle down.”
The kind of texts from the Old Testament that are applied to Christians are Ephesians chapter 2 verse 17: “He came and preached peace to you who are far and peace to you who are near”—now, sorry—“peace to those who—to you who are far and to those who are near”. And, well, what that’s actually doing is it’s taking a text from Isaiah, which is addressed to the near and the far, and so the exiles and the non-exiles—all Israelites—but actually saying that the Gentiles, in some way—Christian Gentiles—those who trust in Jesus, they’re somehow like exiles: they’re like those who are far. And the reason that can happen is because earlier on in chapter 2 of Ephesians chapter 2, Paul has spelled out that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, and both Jews and Gentiles in Christ have been raised up to be seated with him, and the only thing that’s left to happen is for the preaching of the gospel to go out for people to come and hear and trust in him. And it’s Isaiah 57, which is an end-of-exile text—it’s actually a text which is directed to towards Israel about to come out of exile, or, yeah, about to come out and to say, you know, that part of Isaiah is, “Come out! Don’t stay there. Come out. It’s about to finish. Rejoice. Start to realise that the end of exile is about to be over. Yes, you’re still there, but the main thing you need to do is make sure that you don’t settle down in Babylon. Make sure you don’t stay there. Come out of her, my people,” which is also a text that’s supplied in Revelation.
PC: The only thing I’d add to that is it’s not even “Seek the welfare of that city I’m driving you to”, by seeking the welfare of Babylon, they’re seeking the welfare of future Jerusalem. That’s what they’re doing. So prior to this in Jeremiah, they’ve been told not to multiply, not to get married, not to make a home in Jerusalem, ’cause I’m going to wipe it out. Now, they’re being told, “Now you can marry.” The idea is “Now have children again, because you are the future hope for Jerusalem. I’m going to take you back.”
LW: So even that beginning-of-exile text is forward-looking to the end of exile.
PC: Exactly. Yeah. And more than that, I think it’s really important to just draw out that distinction between us and them (that sounds worse than it should)—to draw out that distinction, they—God was speaking to them, who were tempted not to feel at home in Babylon, in saying, “Well, that’s where I’ve put you now.” So they were pining for Jerusalem, if you like, because they’d experienced it. We are people who are naturally at home in Babylon, and the call of the New Testament is, “You’ve got to a new home. It’s Jerusalem. You are citizens of heaven. Don’t feel at home where you naturally feel at home.” So we—the difference is stark, I think, and we got to draw that out, and just a flat reading of Jeremiah 29:7 and applying it to ourselves doesn’t do that.
TP: So there’s an important lessons for us here in how we apply the Old Testament, especially, to our life as Christians today, because as Phil has pointed out very well, Jeremiah 29 represents and describes a situation that is quite different in many ways from the situation we inhabit as those who’ve been rescued from this dark world—this domain of darkness, as Paul describes it, into the kingdom of the son. And yet, as Lionel also points out, there are other points in the New Testament where end-of-exile texts—that is, Old Testament passages that refer to the point that Israel was just about to return and just about to come home—they are sometimes applied to us as Christians because that is very much like our situation. The exile is over; it’s finished; we’re just about ready to return; the victory has been won; the score is 400-nil; it’s deep in the second half; and we just have to wait for the final whistle, when we return and go home to the place where we live as God’s people under his rule and in his place.
So let’s wrap it up. How does this exile theme, given the complexities we’ve seen, how does it apply to us today?
PC: In one way, I want to say, it doesn’t. And I—I want to question whether exile is actually a useful category to use because it tends to import all these unhelpful understandings. So I would say, given the New Testament doesn’t actually use that metaphor for us now, why not use the language the New Testament does use, and that will give us a more helpful way of thinking about it. So the New Testament doesn’t want us to think of ourselves in exile in that theologically loaded sense, as Lionel has repeatedly pointed out; our exile is over in Christ. Instead, the New Testament wants us to say, “You are aliens and strangers in this world you used to call home.” And I think that’s a much more helpful way to think about it, ’cause what that focuses on is the fact that “Don’t get too comfortable in this world. It’s not your home. You should seek to be distinct and different”—basically, the Sermon on the Mount or 1 Peter 2—“You want to be holy like your Father is holy, which is different to the way our world is”.
And so, what does that mean for us? Well it means, why do we then love people? Well, it’s not out of some fulfillment of exile. We love people because we’re called on as followers of Christ to love our neighbour as ourselves in the broadest sense of the word “neighbour”. What should be our priority in our work? Why do we work hard in our work? Well, we’re given that answer by Paul: work hard as if working for the Lord. Don’t be lazy. There’s all the—we don’t need this category of exile to tell us how to interact with our fallen world. We just need to follow the teaching of the New Testament: be distinct, be different. That’s the answer.
LW: Maybe I just come back to that—to you I’d say, “Yeah, that’s right, although the end-of-exile texts do apply to us, so it’s that—it’s not necessarily the category of exile; it is the category of “The exile’s almost over”, and so “Come out of her”, because the exiles in Babylon close to the end of exile were tempted to settle down, because they wanted to stay there and they had to be called out of exile. So maybe it’s—not only does it not apply to us, as you said, but it actually has to—it has to not apply to us. The whole point of the texts in the New Testament are “Do not be in exile! Come out of exile”.
We had a whole conference about ministry and exile. Was that a right thing to do? That’s my question. Or should it have been “Ministry not in exile”? I don’t know.
PC: I think Tony organised it.
TP: Well, that’s a bit embarrassing. Clearly we shouldn’t have called our conference “Ministry in exile”. Perhaps we should have called it something more like “Ministry no longer in exile in Christ, because of his victory on the cross, but at the very end of exile and being called out of exile as we wait for our true home”. Which is probably why the marketing department said, “Call it ‘Ministry in exile’”. I guess all that is left is for me to hit myself on the head one more time—
TP: —and it to pass it back to Phil for some closing words.
PC: I think for us, now, living as aliens and strangers in the world, we’re given everything we need in the New Testament. We’re called to love our neighbour. We seek the good of other people, and we do that because they’re made in the image of God. But what the New Testament and the imminent return of Christ tells us is the greatest good we can seek—the greatest way we can love our neighbour—is to introduce them to Jesus and give them the opportunity to repent and believe the good news. That’s why gospel proclamation will always be the priority for those who live in the last days. That’s not to say we should not love our neighbour, but it’s the greatest act of love to our neighbour.
TP: Well, thanks for joining us for this second episode of our Centre for Christian Living podcast. We’d love to have your feedback and your questions—not only about this episode, but in relation to any other issues of Christian living that you’d really like us to deal with. You can send us an email at ccl AT moore edu au.
And I’d also be interested if you have any good suggestions as to what we should call this podcast. I’ve been thinking that “The Centre for Christian Living podcast” is a slightly cumbersome mouthful of a name for a podcast. If you can come up with something better, we’d love to hear it.
Also check out website: that’s ccl.moore.edu.au, where you’ll find show notes for this episodes, links to the articles that Phil and Lionel have written on this subject, and a link to those Matthias Media books that are related. Thanks so much for listening. I’m Tony Payne. Bye for now.