Strangers and Pilgrims
Napoleon was exiled twice in his life. His first exile came at the hands of the Allied Governments to Elba. This exile followed Napoleon’s abdication at Fontainebleau when he landed on the island May 4, 1814. He was allowed a personal escort of some 1000 men, a household staff and was even given the title Emperor of Elba and rule over its 110,000 people.
Bonaparte began his exile with a reform of the governmental system on the island, which is Italy’s third biggest and lies just off the coast of Tuscany. He became engaged in a total transformation of Island. Soon, however, the former French emperor’s thoughts turned towards Paris – now under the restored rule of the Bourbons – and he began to plan his return. Why, because he was exiled from all that is familiar: language, culture, habit, weather. The time came faster than he imagined and only nine months later, on February 26, 1815, he escaped with his miniature army and landed in France. The 100-Days Campaign had begun.
After his final defeat at Waterloo and his subsequent second exile, Napoleon Bonaparte spent 10 weeks on board the HMS Northumberland as it sailed him to the far-flung reaches of the South Atlantic. His destination was St Helena, a small and windswept island under British control. Almost 2000 kilometers west of Africa, St Helena measured only 122 square kilometers (47 square miles) – half the size of his former home-in-exile, Elba. His intended home, Longwood, was not finished by the time he arrived and so Bonaparte stayed with a British family – the Balcombes- at their residence The Briars. He made a great friend of the family’s younger daughter Betsy and the pair got on famously. There was much rancor between Bonaparte and the British governor of the island, Sir Hudson Lowe. The former emperor complained bitterly of his treatment. Bonaparte complained about not being able to ride without a British escort, however, he apparently refused to even accept riding within sight of them as it was “offensive” to him.
Another sore point was Lowe’s refusal to call the former emperor “your majesty”. He instead called his prisoner “General Bonaparte.” While Lowe was not the most tactful person to deal with the complaints about being poorly supplied and fed may not have a lot of basis. According to one of his staff Bonaparte and his retainers were given on a daily basis by the British: 40 kilos of meat, 9 chickens, 17 bottles of wine (excluding champagne and spirits).
While his household spent much of the five-and-a-half years on the island squabbling with each other Bonaparte set off on what has been called his last campaign – that of writing his memoirs and creating a legend around his name. It was undoubtedly his most lasting victory. Yet, it still was exile. What is the essential meaning of exile? It is being placed where you do not want to be, a separation from that which you know. Your surroundings cannot be comprehended or viewed with any appreciation. Exile forces you from the congenial aspects of life everything is out of place, dislocated, out of joint, nothing fits together, and you are stripped of that which gives you most comfort.
BELIEVERS ARE CALLED PILGRIMS AND STRANGERS (one translation EXILES)
GREEK (παροικια) Transliteration; (paroikia) Pronunciation; (par-oy-kee’-ah) Meanings of the word – (1) in the NT, a stranger, a foreigner, one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship. (2) One who lives on earth as a stranger, a sojourner on the earth. (3) Of Christians whose home is in heaven. A while back I heard a news program dealing with the catastrophic events surrounding Hurricane Katrina; there was an interview with several gentlemen that were evacuated to Washington, D.C. The reporter asked them numerous questions about the state of there being. Each of them replied that they had been given good medical attention, ample and copious amounts of food they had a comfortable place to sleep that was climate controlled everything a body could want. Yet each of them said the same thing. “I want to go home back to New Orleans” The reporter questioned why? The answers, because I feel like a prisoner here this is not my home I am just a stranger here in a strange place strange food.
You see you can have all of the earthly appurtenances and comforts and still have a sense of being misplaced, or out of place, out of your element. Like a fish out of water.
THE FOUNDATION FOR THIS OUTLOOK
You are different from others. Like Abraham we have no permanent dwelling, no abode nor a place of our own, never receiving here the full measure of promise. Genesis 23:4. Many orthodox Jew regardless of how large and beautiful a house they may build always leave some specified portion of it unfinished as a symbolical confession of their being sojourners. They have here no lasting city. Heb 13:14. Our citizenship is in heaven. Philippians 3:20. Temporary residents of earth in the world but not of it! John 17:11-16. Their head and Lord is in heaven; their treasure is there. Matthew 6:19. The abode believers long for is not here it is an abode prepared by Christ. John 14:1-6
You have more then others. A believer is born again; there has been am impartation of another nature one of spiritual design. Awareness is imbued that was not there before! It is an enigma to unbelievers. Nicodemus could not understand it even being a man educated in scripture. With that comes a great abundance of grace (unmerited favor of God) it will suffice for every need!
We owe more then others. You have not been purchased with corruptible things like silver and gold but with something more precious. 1 Corinthians 6:20 & 7:23. What a tremendous gift !! If we were to measure our worth in elements our value would be of no more worth then a pennyweight of gold, if fact, one pennyweight of gold is worth 44 dollars, a persons value in elements is about four dollars and fifty cents. But Christ purchased us with His blood so our value is of some other weight one so precious that God would take time to come, live, and die, shedding His blood. If we have been purchased at such great cost how much more do we owe in gratitude and obedience to Him.
You are scrutinized differently from others. This has been attested by the history Christians have been regarded as evildoers, “they speak evil of you” 1 Peter 3:16. First century Jews persecuted Christians as “enemies of the state” Nero said that they caused the fires of Rome. But that was also the charge of those who did not understand Christ they said, “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub how much more shall they call them of his household?” Matthew 10:25. Is it any wonder that you speak differently, behave differently, and think differently!!!
THE EXPRESSIONS OF THIS PERSPECTIVE
The language of believers is unfamiliar to the natural ear. We speak a Christianese. Think about it the next time you are talking with a group of believers. You make statements like “We have been called out of darkness” or “I have peace that passes all understanding” or just a simple statement like “I am blessed.” Can you imagine the natural-minded person’s reaction to such statements? We are also not apt to use the slang of our times.
Our mannerisms are strange to the natural minded. “They think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess” 1 Peter 4:4. I used to have a saying “I don’t smoke or chew or (pardon me ladies) go with girls that do.” Think also about attending a church setting. You wear the most uncomfortable cloths you sit in the most uncomfortable seats you may sing antiquated songs not on the top 100 list and you give money to a guy who may stand up in front of you for a lengthy amount of time practically screaming at you! And you call this “edifying”! I mean what is the natural mind to think? They may assume you are out of your mind then, of course you use some more Christianese on them and say “No but I have the mind of Christ” Philippians 2:5.
Not only by our views, mannerisms but also the example we set. 1 Peter 2:12 in the Message Translation says “Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.
There is a danger thought when we begin to think about our home in heaven. You have heard the saying “Some have become so spiritually minded that they are no earthly good” and the saying goes in the opposite “Some have become so earthly minded that they are no spiritual good” There is a balance. Because of the dual character the church has often been drawn into the position of being other worldly, ascetic, mystical, escapists on the one side, or secular, earthy, unspiritual, expediently humanistic on the other side. A Church that forgets that it is but a resident of this world, though exiles and aliens will fall into heresy,be bereft of its power, forfeit its Christian character and cease to make an impact as a spiritual entity. Yet it dare not become invisible as to lose its viable reality. And it should not be so conformed to the world that it loses its nature as a colony of heaven.
We are exiles here on this earth. There is a foundation for our feelings. We express them in ways that are in our times, misunderstood.
There are a couple of old songs I love that express our sentiments well. I know, they are not popular amongst most churches today, but I still love to sing them. “Oh Lord you know, I have no friend like You, if heavens not my home, then Lord what will I do, the Angels beacon me from heavens open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore!”
Rusty Goodman used to sing: “This old house, I’ve been living in is needing repair, the windows and the shutters are letting in the cold cold air. I say to myself gonna fix them when I can get the time but all I‘ve been getting lately is leavin’ on my mind”