The early church saw itself in light of the concept of "resident aliens" (παροικοι). "The primary sense of paroikoi* is that of a redemptive tension between the church and its cultural context. These early Christians understood themselves to be different from others in their culture, and lived together as an alternative community nourished by an alternative story—the story of the Bible—that was impressed on catechumens in the process of catechism. The entire catechetical process had this pastoral purpose: to empower a distinctive people shaped by the story of the Bible."
*Note 10: "Paroikoi is the Greek world found in the New Testament (e.g., 1 Pet. 2:11) and often early church literature. It carries the sense of both being at home in a place and being a foreigner."
Micahel W. Goheen, A Light to the Nations(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), 7.