God created this world to be our home. God made it to fit us and us to fit within it. Yet our sinful rebellion against God undid all of that. The world no longer fits us, and we no longer fit within it.
To be sure, there are times and places, occasional and fragmentary, of true fittingness, of genuine experience of God’s original good creation. The world feels like home; we feel at home in it. Yet such experiences do not last. They do not fill the frame of our existence. In many ways, at the deepest levels, we intuit that things are terribly, unhappily awry. Life ought not to be this way. And we have no one to blame but ourselves.
In the midst of our self-induced plight, God, in great mercy, has acted to re-create the world and us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We praise God for his inestimable mercy! God makes creation new to fit us, and he makes us new to fit within it. This is the true definition of having a second home!
Still, between the first and second coming of Jesus, there is an “already but not yet” quality to new life in the post-Easter world. The old is already passing away, but not fully yet. The new is already surging and flowering, but not fully yet. Thus we understand Peter’s references in this letter to followers of Jesus as “strangers in this world,” suffering griefs and trials, while also experiencing inexpressible joy in the hope of Jesus’ resurrection and the inheritance to come.
Therefore, we who love and follow Jesus must live with a certain inescapable tension and paradox in this life of faith. Where the world continues to struggle in pre-Easter alienation from God, it is not our home, and we do not fit into it. Where the world enjoys post-Easter reconciliation and re-creation in God, it begins to rise as our new home. With almost inarticulate joy, we begin to experience God’s glorious new world. Still we are not ultimately home – not yet. That full, final home awaits us beyond this world in the new heaven and earth to come. Hence, we are strangers in this world, but strangers lovingly hosted and embraced toward home by a merciful God.