At church on Sunday the person preaching talked about the book of Lamentations and its relevance for us as Christians today. That is, the sense of exile that the writer of Lamentations feels is one Christians share in this world, where things are plainly not right, and where evil abounds.
But to think of this world only as a place where we are refugees is to make it a place to hate. And whatever else it may be, it’s also the world God created, spinning in an enormous Universe, and decked out in such a fashion that there’s no end to its wonders.
This world fits us like a glove. There is no other known planet where we could survive. We match the nature of this world intimately. To see ourselves as exiles within it is to see it as a place to fight against, to be at cross-purposes with. But it’s not the world’s fault that things are at cross-purposes. St Paul writes in Romans about the whole of creation groaning as it waits its release from whatever it is that holds it at present.
To say, as the hymnwriter does (if I’m correct) that ‘this world is not our home’ is only partly true. This world is our home, but it’s only our temporary home. We’re expecting eventually to go to a place that’s even more our home than this one. That’s the difference.