Ok, so in my last post I said that I would make a start at unpacking the expression, ‘tolerated sojourner’. As the keen observer will note, this is the title ascribed to my blog. And this is the case centrally because it is an expression that will have a major effect on every single post that I write. With that said, here’s the the start of a mini-blog-series (haha!) explaining why this is.
First things first. A ‘tolerated sojourner’ is a Christian. No more, no less. At the core, this phrase is intended to describe the New Covenant believer on his way to Heavenly Canaan. At very least then, it serves to remind the pilgrim that this world is not ultimately his home. That said, we note also that this reminder could be achieved with one word alone (sojourner). So then, why “tolerated'”?
The word ‘tolerated’ portrays to us the paradox and complexity inherent in the biblical idea of covenant pilgrimage. As Kline shows, this idea is modelled for us as early on as the time of the patriarchs;
. . . before the descent into Egypt, the patriarchal community had to be content with sojourner status in the land of Canaan, dwelling in the land of promise as in a land not their own. They beheld the kingdom from afar and confessed that for the present they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb 11:9, 13; Gen 23:4; 47:9). At the appointed time God would visit his people with redemptive judgment, delivering them from bondage and bringing them in triumph to possess the mountain of God’s inheritance. Then the covenant nation would become a theocratic kingdom. However, until the hour came . . . the covenant people must wait in hope and journey in faith. Theirs was a time for the cultivation of common grace relationships, a time for toleration and cooperation with the occupants of the land.
As New Testament believers, we should experience a powerful resonance with the above description of the patriarchal sojourn. And this, correctly so. But, for the purposes of further understanding the expression “tolerated sojourner”, it is that last sentence in the above quotation that needs further emphasis and development. This then, is exactly what I’ll aim to do in the next post. If you’re interested, stay tuned 🙂
Kline, M. G. (2006). Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview (p. 357). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers.