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For My Stuck Friends: The World Is Watching

September 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:11-12

As we learned previously, we have been made into a holy priesthood of believers whose job it is to proclaim God’s goodness to the world. This wonderful and marvelous task of ours makes the way we live all the more important. Just as God is holy, we are to be holy. Just as Jesus is good, we are to be good. As God is worthy of all honor and glory, we are to live honorably. Our lives need to reflect the message that we are preaching, because the world is watching.

If we are grossly misrepresenting Jesus to those who do not yet know him, then how can we expect them to see him? We can’t. Out of love for those around us we need to abstain from the passions of the flesh. We have to live honorably among those that haven’t met the risen Messiah yet. The world doesn’t respond well to those who claim Jesus’ power and live under the power of sin. What good is one that saves from sin if those who claim to be saved still insist on being stuck in it? The world that doesn’t know Jesus would say not much good at all. And they would be right.

I’ve heard people say things about being a Christian like, “I’m not less sinful than anyone else, just forgiven.” Part of the point of that is that Christians should be humble and honest in their interactions with the ones that don’t know Jesus, and that point is well made. But part of it is just bologna. Forgiveness is only part of the message of Jesus. It’s only a small portion of what he offers. Other important parts are salvation from sin, entrance into his holy priesthood, and ransom payment that our captivity would cease. These parts involve true freedom from sin and real transformation of character. It is through this sort of goodness with which Jesus Messiah blesses us so that the world will “glorify God on the day of visitation.” The world isn’t going to glorify God because we’re forgiven and they’re not.

Now, as with all of my difficult words (which are more directed at myself than anyone), do not be discouraged! Don’t get down about your lack of transformation, but rather, embrace your forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. And thank God for it! Then, embrace your calling to be priests, letting the past suffice for doing what is of the world and living a life of meaning in all circumstances because you have been ransomed by his precious blood.* Do not let words exhorting transformation to drive you to shame, but rather to joy in forgiveness and to live in the breathtaking calling we have received. Be transformed because the world around you needs to be transformed too. When you live freed, they will want the freedom you have to offer through Messiah Jesus.

*It’s all wonderfully connected…

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For My Stuck Friends: Your Freedom Is Paid For

August 25, 2011 3 comments

Another beautiful and simple message from insightful Peter.

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. – 1 Peter 1:17-19

You did inherit futile ways from your forefathers: from your dad, from your grandpa, and most importantly, from Adam. Their ways became your ways. This inheritance was not something you had power over that you could reject, but, like a genetic inheritance, one that comes without your consent and controls you. This inheritance owns you. This inheritance holds you captive to futile ways. You cannot escape.
But there is a price that can be paid to free you. Your true Father has paid off your captors and set you free. You were trapped. You were controlled by your inheritance of sin. You were incarcerated in a dark room with no light and no visible way out. And your Dad paid your imprisoner so that you could be free. The cost for your freedom from your inheritance was beyond all riches, and Dad sent a Messiah to pay for your freedom with His own perfect blood. A sacrifice of infinite value in exchange for freedom of an infinite cost. And now, you are ransomed from those who stole you from your Father, free to run into His arms.

This passage is not a guilt trip. It’s not saying, “Look what Jesus did for you. You better live holy or else!” It’s not a passage trying to guilt you into living well. The point of the passage is to communicate how beautiful and powerful and loving the act of God was that freed you. The point is not that you would be sad about how sinful you are despite Jesus’ ransoming act of redemption. Quit making it about you. It’s about God and His Love and His Sacrifice and His Power and His Glory.

Sometimes I think we have grown so accustomed to these ideas of being freed from the slavery of sin, of being redeemed, and of being ransomed from the sin passed from generation to generation that the idea loses its impact on us. We have gotten so used to living in captivity while acknowledging that we are free that reading about the freedom of Jesus does nothing for us. The thing is people, these aren’t just ideas. Peter isn’t just giving us a nice mental image of God saving us through Jesus. It’s a metaphorical description, sure, but it’s a description of what actually happened.

The reality is that your captivity is a thing of the past. The time of being imprisoned by the futile ways of your inheritance is actually over. I know you spent a long time kidnapped, kept in the darkness, trapped and unable to escape. I know you don’t really know life outside of your cell, but it’s still available. I know that you still feel like you are in captivity to your inheritance, but that’s not the reality. The ransom has been paid. The door to your cell has been opened. You can choose to continue to sit in the dark cell, but you are now free to leave.

Do you really want to sit in the futile ways of your forefathers? Haven’t you had enough? You can enter freedom if you would choose to do so. The sin which once overpowered you now has no power over you. You’re free. Conduct yourselves as free people under God’s reign. Live in the kingdom of God. Leave your cage. Stop pretending you’re still in chains. The Messiah has come and you have been ransomed.

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