I PETER 2:11-12
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.
Via Church is embarking on an exciting new season. We are looking at the next two years, 2017-2018, and sensing a God given vision for us as a congregation. The vision is compelling. As we look back at what God has done since our congregation began over 43 years ago – we see His faithfulness. We see the big and bold faith that people that have gone before us had for this community and church. As we stand on the shoulders of others we realize now is our moment to have a faith every bit as big and every bit as bold.
Our mission at Via Church is “Reflecting the hope of Christ so others can do the same”.
Today we are going to commit ourselves financially to the next two years of vision at Via Church. The vision that God has given us will result in increased witness for Jesus Christ. This is a time for us to consider our mission. As reflectors of hope, we are going to talk about Our Great Hope.
Last week we looked at chapter 1 and saw that Peter gives us, as Christ followers, a vision of our salvation, a vision of our living hope, and a vision of our inheritance. We have been born again into a living hope and inheritance! This is great news! We should now ask, “How then shall we live?” In light of this reality, how should we live?
Peter acknowledges that we are sojourners and a minority in culture. How do we live in right relationship with unbelievers in the midst of a culture where our faith and our belief and hope in Jesus are increasingly marginalized? What does it look like? What do we do?
Peter tells us that we should have:
Passion That Is Greater
Peter is writing to Christians who were living such counter-cultural lives of holiness (because they were living as those who had a living hope) that they began to be mocked by those that were not Christians who were looking in on their lives and not understanding why they were living the way they were living (1 Peter 4:4). Peter is encouraging us to stay the course of righteousness in our lives and in our church.
Peter calls us to “abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul”. This is a common call to Christians in the New Testament (Colossians 3:5; 1 Peter 4:1-2). What passions are greater in our lives? The passions of the flesh or the passions and desires of the Spirit? (Galatians 5:16-24) Being born again - born of the Spirit - realigns our passions. All earthly loves should pale in comparison to our love for Jesus. We must pursue holiness and put to death what is unrighteous about us. This is only done through the work of the Holy Spirit as we surrender and obey God’s Word.
Is the world passionate about sinful pleasure? As those with a living hope, we should be more passionate about the gospel!
Conduct That Is Honored
Peter’s point is that if they talk about us, make sure they are saying something because of your conduct that is honorable. What does this look look like to live this way in front of the world in our relationships, in our workplaces, in our finances, in our marriages, in our classrooms, and in our neighborhoods? How do we, out of an overflow of living hope, make this visible in the midst of our culture that is increasingly hostile? We do this by following the example of Jesus in the way that He submitted to His Father and the way He suffered at the hands of those who didn’t like His life (1 Peter 2:21-23; Philippians 2:1-8).
We are to be such good citizens that when the culture looks in on us that they see that we are honorable even in the way that we go about disagreeing. Love is what unbelievers should see when they see our relationships - not only with each other, but with those who hate us and persecute us. They should see us submitting and respecting those governing and in authority (1 Peter 2:15-17).
Lives That Are Visible And Striking
Peter says that our lives will show visible hope when we have a posture of humility and serving those above us, around us, and below us, and everywhere near us. We seek their good. We seek to bless others in every sphere or institution of life that we are a part of. We seek the good of others for the sake of Christ.
We are to excel in this as Christians - in light of this living hope. This posture will make us better spouses, parents, sons and daughters, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, and leaders. The way of the gospel is loving others and it is the best way for human flourishing. People need to see this more now than ever! We should excel in the good values of society that are consistent with Christian values and reject those that are not. This is the tension that we should live in as people with living, visible hope.
Peter is concerned with evangelism - the spreading of the good news to those that are far from God. This is the purpose of this letter. He addresses government, slavery, marriage, the church and says that Christ followers are to live in such a way in these areas to make much of Jesus Christ and evangelize through them. Our hope is displayed to others in the way we conduct ourselves, and if we are following Christ it will lead people to marvel at God’s work.
As we enter these next 2 years of vision at Via, let’s make this living hope visible for all to see. Let’s be a generous church. Let’s generously fund this vision so that Christ is reflected in our church, our city, and our world!
Let’s make our living hope visible!
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
Read: I Peter 2:11-12
What are some ways you actively try to reflect the Hope you have in Christ at work or in your friendships?
In what venues of your life would those around you be surprised to learn you’re a Christian? In what ways does your life look no different than your non-Christian friends, neighbors, and coworkers? In what ways are you hoping in the same things as those not following Christ?
If someone was trying to discover what your hope was in and they watched various aspects of your life,what would they discover as they looked at: your home-life, your workplace, your neighborhood involvement, your spending/saving, your time investments, your leisure.
NEXT WEEK'S PASSAGE: I PETER 4:7-11