(This Post first appeared in Missio Alliance)
There has been a lot written on the theme of the so-called exile that Christians are experiencing in the West as a result of the demise of Christendom. The argument goes something like this, Christians are no longer at the centre of society but instead they are on the margins. Gone are the days when Christians and the church could expect to be in a privileged position in the eyes of secular institutions and be given rights or inroads into broader society. In the same way that Israel was sent into exile by God, we have been sent into exile by our culture as it finds the church unnecessary and irrelevant to its day to day existence. Two great books on this theme are Michael Frost’s Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture  and more recently, The Church in Exile: Living in Hope After Christendom by Lee Beach .
Many Christians like myself have used this image of exile as a tool to help us navigate the uncertain waters of our liminality in the West. Personally, instead of finding the image a negative one, as a few of my peers have, I have found it a source of comfort. It is in humble exile that God purifies us, draws near to us if we let him and speaks to us about the hope of the good things that are to come.