Summary: Peter exhorts us to be holy and not to be conformed to the passions of our former ignorance.
This is the seventh part of our series in the book of 1 Peter, an epistle written to believers in the first century, who were spread out throughout the region of Asia Minor. Peter is encouraging them and reminding them to keep their eyes focused on God and the things of God in the midst of the great persecution that they are suffering as a result of them being associated with Christ.
This letter that was written to believers 2000 years ago speaks to us as well, and gives us good counsel on how to get through life these days, when Christians are once again being marginalized and sometimes considered fools for what we believe.
If you believe in the biblical story of creation (which I hope you do), you are likely to be in the minority in New England. In the country as a whole, however, I believe statistics show that creationists are still leading in the polls. But the trend is against us.
If you believe in the sanctity of life and are against abortion under any circumstances, you are likely to be in the minority in New England.
If you believe in traditional marriage…if you believe that homosexuality is a sin and is unnatural, then according to all the polls I’ve seen, you are becoming more and more the minority, again, especially in our part of the country.
If you believe in abstinence…and that boys and girls, men and women should abstain from sex until marriage, (not only believe it but practice it) you are certainly in the minority, even in Christian churches!
If you believe gambling is wrong and is not only harmful to society, but shows a lack of trust in the provision of God, you are the exception. That goes for lottery and casinos.
If you believe smoking is inconsistent with the proper care of the temple of God---our bodies---, or think gluttony is a sin, you’re the exception.
If you believe lying is wrong, even if it seems necessary to protect you or your reputation, you are probably one in 10,000.
If you care about your brothers and sisters who are being tortured for being Christian around the world, you’re certainly the exception, not only in the world, but in the church!
If you believe in prayer, and pray, you are probably the exception.
So with all these shifts in our culture AWAY from the biblical principles and AWAY from what Christians traditionally have believed, that we are experiencing in the world AND in the church, how do we, the faithful, stay encouraged? How do we get through life? How do we maintain joy when all that we believe in is being dismantled and falling apart around us? How do we hold fast to Christian doctrine and practices when it’s becoming so unpopular and even considered hate speech?
If you are living in the world with no problems, no friction, no disgust in the direction things are going these days, then you are probably out of step with the ways of our God, as given to us in the Bible. If that’s the case, you need to examine your faith and get right with God.
Another biblical author, the apostle John, tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Not acceptable by man, but acceptable to God!!!
I’m afraid the world has seduced us very effectively and we have become very comfortable in the world, even as Christians. The majority of Christians today are almost completely indistinguishable from the rest of the pagan world.
There is no appreciable difference in our use of foul language, in our divorce rates, in our selection of movies that we watch, in our foregoing church to do something more enjoyable.
Instead of the Church influencing the world for Christ, the world has influenced the Church much more effectively. As the saying goes, “the church has so little influence on the world because the world has so much influence on the church!”
ILLUSTRATION: A pastor friend of mine came to the pastor’s prayer meeting last Monday all discouraged and beaten down because more and more of his flock are going to sports activities instead of church. He gave example after example of members who chose to do something other than worshiping their God and Savior. He gave one account of a member of his church who said they won’t be in church because they’re going to a Frisbee tournament! A FRISBEE TOURNAMENT!!! And this is a member of a Christian church! Christ went to the cross to die for me and I’m going to go to a Frisbee tournament instead of worshiping Him? Please don’t ever tell me that.