The Church In Exile (book review)

Although originally published 20 years ago, The Church In Exile by James W. Thompson is even more on-target today.

Taking its title from a phrase in the book of 1 Peter in the Bible (aliens and strangers in the world), Dr. Thompson makes the Apostle Peter’s counsel readily applicable for today. Christians don’t belong to this world, we are simply exiles living here temporarily until we reach our true home in heaven. Peter addresses how we as exiles are to conduct ourselves in foreign—often hostile—territory.

Dr. Thompson brings in just enough cultural background from the first century to set the stage, but then quickly shows the reader the parallels to the twenty-first century. He also uses just enough of his extensive knowledge Greek to pull out the deeper definition of words, but not so much as to make this a dry read. On the contrary, I was almost instantly hooked, and learned so much from every chapter.

I found this quote near the beginning of the book which set the stage for me:

“The changes that have taken place within the last generation will not make exiles of those whose Christian commitment demands little of them. Nor will it make exiles of churches that speak only to echo what others are already saying. Indeed, religion may remain popular in our culture as long as it exists only to bless the popular values. However, those who are willing to say that God has decisively revealed Himself only in Jesus Christ, and that our response to Him is a matter of ultimate importance, will be exiles in a culture that believes that all commitments are equally valid.”

The Church In Exile could easily be used as a personal Bible study tool, as a companion to reading through 1 Peter. However, the discussion questions at the end of each chapter would also make this book an excellent study guide for a small group Bible study.

I am an ACU Press book reviewer.

What God Do You Tru$t?

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

Things seem to be going very, very well for Israel! Check out what Isaiah wrote:

Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots.

Sounds like a success story to me!

But wait: the next verse sounds a bit ominous:

Their land is full of idols; the people worship things they have made with their own hands.

Money? Yes.

Influence? Lots.

Prosperity? For everyone.

Idolatry? Widespread.

They were no longer looking to God, but they were looking to what they had made with their own hands. In other words, they made Money their god.

Money can save us!

Money can fix all our problems!

Without Money we are lost!

Only those with Money can be saved!

Sadly, I believe what was said of Israel 2500 years ago could be said of the United States of America today. In God We Trust is printed on all our currency, but it really has become In Money We Trust. We have made Money our god.

Don’t believe me? How do you think most people would answer these fill-in-the-blanks:

  • I need _____________ to get clothes.
  • Without _____________ I cannot feed my family.
  • If I lost _____________ today I would be devastated.
  • I frequently think about how more _____________ in my life would make my life better.

But check out what Jesus says about clothes, food, and our means of survival.

What should go in the blank: Money or God? Again, let’s let Jesus have the final word: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13).

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