I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.
The more I look at the world around me, the more I feel like a stranger to the world, for the world I grew up with seems so out of sync with life around me.
I grew up when mutual respect was still valued; when “looking out for number 1” was seen as a bad thing. I grew up with the hope that we were not to ask what our country could do for us, but rather as what we can do for our country. I grew up in a time when dreamers dreamed not of improved profits, but of changed lives where all have an equal opportunity to succeed. I grew up at a time when we could sing “All we need is love…” and really believe that to be true.
I look around today, in the nihilistic marketplace of ideas and things and wonder where I am. Certainly, my own actions and lifestyle choices have contributed to the winner takes all, get the most you can, thrive on feeling good attitudes of today’s world. And yet as I get older, it feels more and more like I am a stranger in a different world.
Certainly the psalmist on the rivers of Babylon writing his celebration of God’s law must have known how I felt. I look at the scriptures and see a love story from God which calls us to share in the sacrificial love of Christ through humbling ourselves and giving freely to others. Joel Osteen reads the same scriptures and thinks that God wants him to have a G6 and a Mercedes. I’m sure there were voices in the time of the exile suggesting that the old laws were useless and that the people of Israel needed to adapt to their new reallity. And yet that psalmist pleas to God, I’m in a strange place, so please make your words come alive right now.
Of course there is much good today. Reading the news and seeing people banding together to fight in peaceful ways for their freedom points to a different world which may hopefully be for the better.
When I see those signs of hope, and I root myself in the story of God, I begin to feel at home again.