Another frame for the gospel of God is that of Homecoming. God’s people had been taken into captivity; their homeland was decimated. They were placed under judgement and became exiles, aliens in a foreign land. ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we wept, when we remembered Zion.’ They were orphaned. However, after 70 years, through Nehemiah, they began an exit from Persia and a return to the promised land.
In parallel, many people today experience displacement. They may feel like (or are literally) foreigners – aliens in a foreign land. People feel like no one understands them. In a world of personal and spiritual darkness, often the worst ideas are contemplated – like violent revenge, suicide or addictive escapism.
So when we offer the gospel to our friends, we may need to offer them the promise of a safe home where they are understood. Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you, that you may be with me forever… I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” We can offer escape from captivity, they can exit the dark and enter the light, they can escape punishment and enjoy the comfort and consolations of being home. People through the gospel are no longer strangers and aliens.
Of course for this claim to be made, this reality must be evident in the local church!