Mark Labberton, in The Dangerous Act of Worship, outlines two paradigms that the Christian church lives under: The paradigm of exodus and the paradigm of exile.
The exodus paradigm has had an enormous impact on the American Christian church in that “the United States was established by those who were leaving various kinds of bondage to pursue religious and spiritual freedom” (The Dangerous Act of Worship, p. 135).
And Scripture does indeed support the exodus paradigm. As Paul states,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
The concept of the exodus paradigm is that we are passing through this earth on the way to our real home in heaven.
The exile paradigm, on the other hand, is about settling as strangers in a strange land and doing all we can to live out our calling in the midst of a culture that is not in line with our belief system. In this paradigm, we realize that we are “to be signposts, to be salt, to be light in the world. Exile allows us to hold on the the slow and steady path toward God’s re-creation” (The Dangerous Act of Worship, p. 146).
Scripture aligns with this paradigm as well. St. Peter says,
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:11-12).
So which is it? Exodus or exile? Labberton makes it clear: “Jesus calls us to both domains of life. Both exodus and exile are God”s intention. Both are to be our experience. Both are needed, and both have meaning. Both are to be a part of our daily living and it takes both to make the fullest sense of God’s purposes and plan” (The Dangerous Act of Worship, pp. 144-145).
Enjoy your time therefore in exodus AND exile.