One of the first things you’ve probably noticed about Exile Presbyterian Church is the uniqueness of our name. The term exile means “the condition of living away from one’s homeland.” You may remember that, during the Old Testament period, this term was used to describe the nation of Israel during their Babylonian captivity (II Kings 25:21). But did you realize that the apostle Peter uses this same word to describe us, Christians under the New Covenant? In I Peter 1:17 he writes, “…Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” Likewise, the writer to the Hebrews points us to the example of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), who “acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (11:13). The term “exile,” therefore, is one of the Bible’s ways of describing the believer in this present age.
The biblical idea that believers are exiles in this present age whose true citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20) perfectly captures the bittersweet tension between satisfaction and longing so characteristic of life in this world. And more importantly, the name serves to remind us that, regardless of our struggles or successes in this passing age, our true City is an eternal, heavenly one, “whose Builder and Architect is God” (Heb. 11:10). In short, our name evokes hope for weary pilgrims, reminding us that we are not consigned to wander forever, but we will one day arrive at the heavenly country where our Lord Jesus Christ, himself formerly exiled for our sin, has entered as our forerunner (Heb. 6:20).