Affirmation to exiles.

I was out on a run, listening to Chris Brogan. He was talking about helping people feel like insiders, like they matter to your company.
I thought about a study we did in 1 Peter the night before. Peter is talking to people living in modern Turkey. According to one commentator, these readers had started as Jews, living in Rome, who decided to follow Jesus. In one of the frequent Roman efforts to balance the budget by clearing non-citizens out of the capital, the Jews were exiled from Rome. And, because the Christians were considered a subset of Jews, they got sent away too. Often, exiles would go to Roman colonies where they were actually valuable as settlers who understood Roman ways, even though they had never been citizens. Kind of like some of the people who were early settlers of this country.
So now you have a group of people who 1) were at odds with the Jewish leaders 2) were at odds with the Roman central government 3) who were living in newly occupied territory so they weren’t loved by the locals and 4) who were only loosely affiliated with the occupying forces. And Peter writes them a letter and says,
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for His possession,
so that you may proclaim the praises
of the One who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light.
Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.–
To our ears, that sounds like typical arrogant Christian triumphalism.
To their ears, living as cultural and religious and geographic exiles, it was the ultimate insider affirmation, coming from a guy who actually KNEW Jesus, who had been forgiven by him, who had credibility for being locked up and living as an outcast himself.
It’s a powerful thing to remind people on the outside that they matter.