London is quite busy. This was one of the first things I noticed when I got off the train at Euston station at 9.20 on my first day as a commuter. I didn’t so much walk to work as be carried along, by the wave of people who luckily for me were going in the same direction as my new office.
I’d never particularly thought of myself as a country bumpkin – I grew up in Kettering which has a Nandos (can you get more bohemian than Nandos?). But during my first few weeks as a commuter I felt like I came from a tiny remote village.
I wasn’t used to the volume of traffic that went along Euston Rd. When I first started working for Age UK I would stand by the pelican crossing, refusing to move an inch until the little green man appear to shepherd me across to the relative safety of the other side of the road.
I required a defibulator the first time I went out for a drink with my work colleagues and I saw how much a pint cost.
But over the last 12 months I have become quite cosmopolitan. I have learnt to charge to death or glory across the main road. I now sell a part of my liver prior to any work outing to cover my costs (I won’t need my liver at £5 a pint!)
The thing is though, despite the fact I have learnt to ‘do’ London, I’m still not a Londoner. I may own an Oyster Card but one look rugby shirts and hoodies hanging in my wardrobe will tell you that I am a Welsh Essex Boy from Kettering.
As much as I am enjoying my job I still take a deep breath every time I get off the train and Wolverton and think ‘I’ve escaped the smog!!!!’.
The Bible describes a similar feeling that we as Christians may experience, living as part of this world. 1 Peter 2 11-12 says
‘Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us’.
We are aliens and strangers in this world. This world isn’t our home, our home is heaven. And things in this foreign climb can foggie the waters for us, changing our behaviour and making is loose sight of how we are supposed to live.
I saw a great example of this in an ‘opinion’ piece in the London Evening Standard. The article was titled ‘Gossip: it’s a necessary evil — and such fun’. The general gist of the article was ‘I know you’re not really meant to gossip, but it’s fun, so we should all gossip’.
This viewpoint directly contradicts the Bible which sees Gossip as a dangerous activity that destroys friendships and betrays confidences. The Bible clearly tells us that we should have nothing to do with gossip (Proverbs 20 v 19).
As our society adopts and promotes more and more views that are contrary to the Bible (about gossip, money, sex, alcohol and too many other things to list here) we need to be increasingly aware of the differences between our eternal heavenly home and our temporary residence.
The great song writer theologian Belinda Carlisle once famously said ‘we’ll make Heaven a place on earth’. I think this was what Peter was getting at when he said
‘Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us’.
If we can stick to our guns, holding on to our heavenly view point, then others around us may see the wisdom and goodness of Gods ways. You never know, they may start to imitate us, and we’ll see little pockets of heaven springing up all around us.