Our reading for Wednesday, April 10, 2019 is 1 Peter 1:13-21.
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. – NIV
The motto of the Boy Scouts had been “Always be Prepared.” I do not know if it remains such to this day, but that is what I remember from being a Scout myself so many years ago. I know there were other sayings promoted to the young boys of that day to guide them into manhood; this one though resonates with the subject of our reading.
The apostle Peter holds out to those to whom he was writing the admonition to “prepare their minds for action. Now we must consider what action he was referring to. “Be self-controlled” he continues. To be victorious over any threat to our well-being we must anticipate what threat we might face. The threat we anticipate will determine the actions that we must take. If we are unprepared we shall be given to panic and anxiety, however if we prepare for the potentialities we shall meet each challenge with self-restraint. Panic leaves us open to responding to threats in ways which afterward may give cause for us to regret and dishonor ourselves and Christ.
We must read further in his letter to understand what specific threats Peter might be referencing. We know of one predominant concern as it is revealed in his very next sentence, “do not conform to the evil desires you once had when you lived in ignorance” of their evil nature. As we mature in our faith there will be behaviors that came natural to us that now we come to reject as evil and inappropriate for one who follows Christ. This awareness comes as we read and understand God’s Word through the Holy Spirit with application to the circumstances of our daily living.
Deciding what is right then must be followed by what the Apostle lays out as obedience to the truth revealed to us. Obedience in some matters may prove a simple matter, yet in others will present us with significant challenge as we may be required to act against attitudes and behaviors which are contrary to our normal way of responding. Obedience may seem unnatural but that should not matter for God determines what should be considered “natural” rather than ways we might have been taught or have become acceptable norms of our culture.
My daughter sent me a news story which presented a statistic stating that 62% of Americans accept a certain value as being permissible. What is true is not subject to public or populous opinion. God, the Creator, defines and reveals what is true and we must wrestle with its implications. Some would say that there is greater certainty and security in numbers which is not always true. John Wesley referred to Christians who accepted popular opinion and practice as those who rubbed their hand along the grain rather than against it. He then compared this to the cross to which he concluded our Lord was willing to go against the grain and bore many splinters of wood in his flesh.
This is not a pleasant subject for me to write about or for you to read and consider, but one that is essential. The way of holy living to which the apostle writes is not an easy way to follow, yet we know it is the true path we are to take. Peter lays it out succinctly when he writes “Be holy in all you do” because God who is holy has called us to holiness. He writes of the example of Christ who struggled with himself and his prevailing culture to the point of death. But in his death was he then raised to life and was glorified.
There is certainly a resurrection awaiting us should we prove faithful in striving to live holy lives. The resurrection is not limited to eternal salvation though; there is a salvation in the present life, born of the knowledge of our doing what is right in God’s sight and which glorifies Christ through our choices and actions. The only way we can be this victorious over the threats to our hearts and minds is to become radically detached from this world. Peter asks us to live as strangers in this life in reverent fear.
I am brought to recall an old hymn I have sung in days past for which a line reads, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” It reminds me that should I make myself to comfortable with the values and directions of our prevailing culture when they are contrary to God’s revealed Word of truth then I will not have the inner certainty I’m on the right path, the one that despite occasional failure is met with grace.
Blessings! Brian Homan, pastor