Today’s reading was 1 Peter 1:13-21
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 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 person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners 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 ancestors,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.
A few thoughts on this.
I always enjoy passages that talk about directing the mind. This means that the mind is not passive, but rather a tool at our disposal to be directed and utilized as we determine. In this case, our minds are to be alert and fully sober. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop, with a delicious latte in front of me. That, plus a decent night’s sleep should take care of the alertness. And in terms of sobriety, no problems there in terms of any type of intoxication (unless caffeine counts). But I think sobriety here has more to do with clear thinking, and clear thinking means seeing the world as God sees it.
So, there is something I must do: set my hope on the grace to be brought to me… I must orient my mind to this future event, knowing that my future is secure, that my salvation is assured, and that when Jesus returns he will claim me as one of his own.
But there is also something I must NOT do: confirm to the evil desires I had when I lived in ignorance. Since I now KNOW better, I must LIVE better. The better thinking leads to a better doing. My example is the holiness of Christ himself, who was tempted in every way just as we are, but was without sin.
And the reason I must live this way? I was bought at a great price (the blood of Christ) and I have a Heavenly Father who will judge how I live, impartially. Not that my salvation is at stake, but my rewards. Honestly, I don’t even know what the nature of those rewards could be, but I do not want to disappoint my Heavenly Father.
The phrase “live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear” is interesting. There’s a sense in which are not supposed to be too comfortable in this world. We are not to become “enculturated,” so much a part of it that we cannot stand outside it and assess it from the Christian perspective. We are supposed to feel out of place, and somewhat on guard.
If I were to travel to a distant country, and I knew as I got off the train that this train station was notorious for pickpockets, I would be on guard. Not paralyzed or paranoid, but careful. And as I walk through this world, there are those (people, or even spiritual entities) that would seek to steal my peace, my joy, my trust in God. And I must be aware and on guard to not let this happen.
So must you.
I was very pleased with my sermon on the Woman Caught in Adultery that I preached at Central Christian Church this last Sunday, on Christianity being about grace rather than rules. If you missed it, or if you read this from far afield, you can catch it here: http://www.centralsj.org/#/home/sermons-series Video and Audio available.