But you are not like that (people who reject God), for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
“Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.”
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.1 Peter 2:9-11
I ran across this passage (again) when verse 9 popped up this morning as Bible Gateway’s “verse of the day.” Of course – and God does this all the time – it fit in beautifully with another conversation I was literally in the middle of with a men’s ministry leader in Virginia (my friend, Ray Gryder).
What I latched onto was the idea that we, as followers of Jesus, need to “keep away from worldly desires that wage war against (y)our very souls.”
Again, there is this contrast between what it looks like to follow Jesus and the natural predilection of people to be sucked into what Paul describes in Philippians 2 as, “selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather,” he goes on to say, “in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Selfish ambition and vain conceit result in things that “wage war against our very souls.” Namely the desire for power, vengeance, domination, control etc.
The writer of 1 Peter points out that our calling, as believers, is to “show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
That is such an appropriate, timely, necessary commission in these times when the politics of power and retribution and bitterness and control and hate have also adopted a markedly religious slant. Being Christian in contrast and by definition involves, “they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God….”
A constant refrain I have used goes like this: “Jesus is God’s invitation.” Additionally, as extensions of the ministry of Jesus in this world, we too are invitation cards that people read.
My invitation reads something like this: “God has called you out of the darkness and into his wonderful light!”
If my message, my invitation, is going to ring true, then it must be because who I am and how I act tells the truth about the Gospel of Love and Light.
This current political climate – and most especially the pseudo-faith I call, “lightly christianized religious nationalism” – is “waging war against your very souls.”
We have been called out of darkness. “You are the light of the world,” Jesus said – of us – in the Sermon on the Mount. So shine already!
So let’s shine already – DEREK