As Pilgrims Living Counter-Culturally what do we do? How are we to live if we are to carry out Christ’s mandate to love God, love our neighbor, and make disciples? And what should we expect to encounter in the process?
cf. 2 Cor. 3:2-3 “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” NIV
Everybody who is reading that letter in each one of us should read a message of hope, see us as examples of holiness. As world / culture around moves further away from biblical norms, the hopeful and holy Christian becomes easier to spot. Peter’s two letters intended to encourage believers living in 1st century culture with many similarities to our own, one in which Christian is expected to live counter-culturally.
This world is not our home nor is it the source of our hope. Yet we do have a permanent home… waiting for us, and we have a hope that is both “a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls” (Heb. 6:19)
A. Christians live in a hostile world
ever since the Fall, has been hostility present in world: between serpent and woman, his offspring and hers – will continue until new heaven and new earth
They were and we are pilgrims / exiles.
temporary residents – might turn into permanent resettlement, but no guarantees… given or looked for – hoping to find safety, way to provide for daily needs, worship in peace
not seeking citizenship – probably would not have rejected it, but… apt to come with more liabilities than assets, hindrances than helps – having goals, using methods often contrary to God’s word
not putting down cultural roots – ultimate destiny not here in this world, had little appeal because looking for / investing in better city
They were “of the Dispersion”.
had been scattered because of persecution – life had become uncomfortable enough wherever they were… decided time to move
would be considered displaced persons, scattered (or broadcast) by God’s purpose throughout region with God’s intent they should bring forth fruit / multiply / make disciples there
perhaps from both “Rome” and “Jerusalem” – same word Luke used following Saul’s persecution, group may have included both Jews and Gentiles – either way were in Gentile territory at that time
They were and we are living in hostile territory.
religious hostility – if there were Jewish enclaves in N Turkey, Christians not welcome… either into Jewish church or social circles
not welcome in pagan society because they refused to follow accepted practice, Christians would not want to go to their church
political hostility – emperor-worship increasing so Christian rejection of pagan gods seen as lack of loyalty to / attack on the state… and neither would be tolerated
were free to worship any god they chose as long as they at least burned incense to Caesar – sounding more like our times
B. Christians can live with hope in this hostile world
We can have hope because we have been chosen by God.
purposeful on God’s part – according to his foreknowledge – no part of our hope depends on our genius or ability… is all God’s doing
hostility present in world is not outside God’s divine plan; God’s plan to call us out of kingdom of Satan into kingdom of his dear Son not random act either
chosen with purpose for a purpose – some of most hopeless people in world those who have no sense of purpose, no reason to think there is purpose in anything beyond this life – not so for a Christian
a holy people devoted to obedience – may not know all the details, almost certainly a good thing, do know basic outline: live righteously, soberly, godly in a hostile world
We can have hope because we have been saved by the Triune God.
is all God’s work that completely saves us (obedience is result, not cause) – have been saved and are being saved, all three Persons actively involved in our salvation
selected by the Father – apostle Paul tells us we were “chosen in him before the foundation of the world” – iow, incl. in God’s eternal purpose, not last minute deal to be adopted into God’s family
sprinkled by the Son – sprinkling an essential part of OT sacrifice and purification imagery – Son has redeemed us at cost of his own life, washed away all our uncleannesses and replaced with his righteousness
sanctified by the Spirit – is the mark of the Spirit that distinguishes from mark of the Beast – are set apart, identified and devoted to specific purpose: holiness of life that outwardly reflects Spirit’s presence
We can have hope because we enjoy God’s multiplied grace and peace.
an ongoing supply of grace and peace – continually receiving confirmation of God’s ownership: he keeps giving peace in midst of hostility, grace we need to stay faithful in hard circumstances
an adequate supply – sufficient for us to meet expectations – tempted to ask “Lord, are you sure? You want me to do that?” and he says “Yes, I am sufficient for you”
NOTE: not only can live with hope, we should live that way – we of all people, objects of God’s great blessing, should be able to look past present, have confidence in God and his plan for our future
C. Christians can live with holiness in a hostile world
We are set apart by the Spirit.
for a different purpose – our purpose includes important aspects of this life but is not limited to this life – includes things now that have significance later
with a different motivation – not personal gain, acclaim / affirmation of society; instead, love for God demonstrated by obedience, leaving results to him
using different methods – especially with regard to spiritual matters, our methods determined by what God and Word dictate
We are being empowered by the Spirit to obey.
experience of early church – filled with the Spirit – only after that they got really fired up and effective; when filled, they did!
remember what Paul said – written by the Spirit – letter needs to be readable, not masked / distorted by lots of “world” stuff
and… led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14) – can count on the Spirit to lead us – ask for his help, depend on his help, he will do his part
We are being purified by the work of the Spirit and the blood of Christ.
God loves us while sinners… but doesn’t leave us that way – the more we do our part to follow the Spirit, less like the world we become and more like Lord Jesus
and sinners don’t need a “pre-treatment” to get good enough for God to save them – lost people need to hear that
the blood washes away our past – can never rightly say that are things we’ve done that God can’t forgive – nothing in our past should hold us back, nothing in past should keep lost from coming to faith in Christ
the Spirit works in us in our circumstances to conform and equip – no hint of promise anywhere in Peter’s writing that God would change his peoples’ circumstances – instead he changes us in our circumstances to equip for other circumstances
The worse the world gets around us, more noticeable holy and hopeful Christians will be. Greater opportunities for God to show his power in and through us, use us as instruments of his peace to bring good news of Gospel to others. Are we up for the challenge? God certainly is, will enable us individually and as church family to do his will.