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Summary: This passage of scripture helps us to see a view of how Christians are to live following the resurrection.

CONFORMITY AND HOLINESS

Text: I Peter 1:13 – 25

“In a recent article on the suffering church, FaithWorks listed the degrees of persecution one could face for practice of religious faith:

1. Disapproval

2. Ridicule

3. Pressure to conform

4. Loss of educational opportunities

5. Economic sanctions

6. Shunning

7. Alienation from community

8. Loss of employment

9. Loss of property

10. Physical abuse

11. Mob violence

12. Harassment by officials

13. Kidnapping

14. Forced labor

15. Imprisonment

16. Physical torture

17. Murder or execution”.

Citation: Andrew Black and Craig Bird, "The Risk of Faith," FaithWorks (July/August 1999), pp. 17–20; source: Robert Garret, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

There are a lot of things on this list that specifically mention the kinds of sufferings list that people can encounter. The things on this list that we are likely to encounter are “disapproval, ridicule, pressure to conform, shunning and alienation from community”. As Christians, we are likely to encounter these things from those who oppose us. That kind of ostracism is what we share in common with those who oppose us. The main difference between us and the first and second century Christians is that they might have experienced all 17 things on this list.

This passage of scripture helps us to see a view of how Christians are to live following the resurrection. There is not much that is different between our time and the time in which this epistle was written between in 63 and 64 A.D.. In that day, many Christians were often persecuted to the point of death. Today, we are persecuted through ridicule or discrimination. However, we know in our day that the threat of terrorism is always a possibility. Even though Osama Bin Laden was removed on May 1, 2011, the threat of terrorism still exists. This scripture urges Christians how to live and persevere in the midst of the atmosphere of persecution. In general, this passage of scripture deals living life forward remembering that we are called to be holy as God is holy.

CONFORMITY

Peter seems to hint at the way unbelievers were living. 1) Ignorance: Is ignorance really bliss? People of the pagan world were ignorant. As William Barclay pointed out, they were ignorant because they believed in more than one God as well as their belief that gods were both unknowable and unapproachable. (William Barclay. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Letter Of James and Peter. Volume 1. Philadelphia : Westminster Press, 1975, p. 186). 2) Seeking to fill a void?: A second thing that Barclay pointed out was that unbelievers lived lives dominated by desire because they were often married many times. One woman was married some twenty-three times while being the twenty-first wife of her most recent husband. (Barclay, p. 187). How many people do we know that are trying to fill a void---an emptiness that only God can fill? 3) Futility: Life was characterized by an attitude and an outlook that was futile. (Barclay, p. 187). They did not have hope because they did not have lives that were fulfilling. 4) Substitute: Spiritually hungry people in the world today still try to substitute other things for the place the God should have in their lives. We cannot substitute other things for God and find fulfillment. We must not conform to the pattern of this world but rather to the things of God (Romans 12:2); we must conform to the godly things--- what is true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 3:8 paraphrased).

Peter urges Christians to live with hope while embracing their new future. 1) The problem of hopelessness: What would life be like if there were no hope? What would our daily existence be like? Would we not live in despair working for bread and laboring for the things that do not satisfy (Isaiah 55:2)? Imagine how hope is working or not working for those who have lost their homes in the recent tornadoes? How much hope would we have if the same thing happened to us? 2) The sovereignty of God: One thing is certain, God gives us reason to hope. In the words of Tony Compollo, “It’s Friday but Sunday is coming”. What did he mean by that statement? I believe that he meant for us to look beyond the things that seem final and defeating like the cross, and toward the resurrection where there is only God-given victory made possible only by God’s intervention!

HOLINESS

What do we think about when it comes to holiness? 1) Can wretches become holy?: Are we like Isaiah in Isaiah 6, reminding God of what a wretch we are? John Newton, a former slave trader who repented and wrote about what it means to be saved when he wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”. Do we see how God calls us to be holy as God Himself is holy (I Peter 1:16)? The command to be Holy as God is holy is in the Old Testament three times in the book of Leviticus and at least once in the New Testament as we see it in I Peter. 2) The pursuit of holiness: As someone (David Walls and Max Anders) put it, “God takes character development seriously…”. (David Walls and Max Anders (ed. also). Holman New Testament Commentary: I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude. Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishes, 1999, p. 13). With God’s help, we can succeed in being holy! “All of our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). All who have been baptized have been clothed with Christ (Romans 3:27). God is not willing that our character for holiness to go under-developed!

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