Peter’s reference to the church as “exiles” doesn’t mean at least two things, according to Harink. It doesn’t mean that they are literally exiles from their homes. Most of the people who received this letter were living where they always lived. Likewise the term does not mean that Christians are “exiles” in this world in the sense that they really belong in heaven rather than on earth.
Rather, being “exiles” points to the people of God’s being set apart, separated by God among the nations for a specific calling. Thus, exile is rooted in election. God establishes God’s people among the nations as witness to God’s holiness, thus constituting a particular sort of non-national peoplehood.