SUGGESTED SCRIPTURE READING- 1 Peter 1: 1-25
FOCAL PASSAGE——–1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…
3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. First Peter1:1, 3-7, 13-16, 23
It’s interesting to read different Bible translations and observe the words used to describe the recipients of Peter’s letter. The King James Bible calls them “strangers”, and the New American Standard Version refers to them as “aliens”. I like the term the Holman Christian Standard Version uses…”temporary residents”, but they all mean the same thing. Those of us who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior are living in a place that is not really our home, at least not our eternal one. As the old Hymn says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through”.
Have you ever traveled to another country? It’s a strange feeling as you walk among the residents. If we travel to England, they might not notice us by our appearance, but as soon as we open our mouth, they know we don’t belong there; we sound different…foreign. If we travel to Jamaica, or China, it becomes evident even sooner…our skin color is different, our height might be different, our hair color, etc. The early Christians had been scattered or exiled into foreign lands. So they were literally strangers, but they were also of a different nature.
Verse 2 says we have been “set apart”, but I’d like to skip ahead and come back to that in a few minutes, if you don’t mind.
As Believers, just like the early Christians, we have a new nature. Verse 3 tells us, “He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. The word “hope” to the world, means the anticipation of possible good things to come…there’s a big “maybe” right in the middle of it., But the hope that Peter speaks of here is a “living hope”, a certainty. We might substitute the word “confidence” in its place. Have you thought about what a promise this is? Let’s review verse 4; that hope, or confidence, is in “AN INHERITANCE THAT IS IMPERISHABLE, UNCORRUPTED, AND UNFADING, KEPT IN HEAVEN FOR YOU.” Wow! Not kept by us; nothing we could ever do would assure it would still be there…but kept by God. It is this “hope”, confidence, promise if you will, that can keep us going in times of difficulty and stress. As we struggle with the “various trials” Peter speaks of…when we face financial difficulties, illnesses or the loss of loved ones, we have this promise… this hope, to bring us through it. And as living testaments, we will bring glory and honor to our Savior.
So we have this great gift, this promise…now what? Let me ask you a question. How might our lives change if we won the lottery…I mean a big one…millions. Do you think you might get a new car or a new house? Sure…chances are, more than one. Our clothes would change, our appearance might even change. It would reflect the lifestyle of which we were now a part. I won the lottery, “therefore”, my life is going to be different…and it will be evident to others.
Well, there is a “therefore” in verse 13 as well. We have been given this great gift, this inheritance, so… “13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.”
We are to live differently than before Jesus came into our life. If our lives do not reflect something different than the rest of the world, why would anyone want to be like us? Why would anyone want to become a Christian if they cannot see the hope that is within us?
Now let’s back track to the part I skipped. Set apart…now what does that mean? I could set myself apart…let’s see…I won’t drink, I won’t smoke, I won’t curse. That will make me different. I could visit the sick, give to the poor, always be on time at work, be polite to everyone That will make me different. It may sound kind of silly, but that’s what the world thinks about Christians. That we have a list of things we can’t do and things we have to do. Nothing could be farther from the truth…we can not set ourselves apart.
We have been set apart by God “for obedience”. To be set apart means we are to love Jesus more than we love the world and verse 23 reveals the secret. It was “through the living and enduring Word of God” that we were set apart.
And it is through the Word of God that we can live for him. A conversation is a two way street. We can pray and talk to God, but He speaks to us through His word. If we only do one of those, it’s a monologue, not a dialog. By His word, we learn to love Him more than the world, live for Him, and give the glory back to Him.
There is an old Hymn we sang in church when I was a child, but we almost never sang the third refrain…it goes like this:
Then live for Christ both day and night,
Be faithful, be brave and true,
and lead the lost to life and Christ.
Let others see Jesus in you.