Summary: Big Idea: We are God's prized possession! This sermon brings into focus several aspects of our identity in Christ and what it means for believers to be God's prized possession, as the Apostle Peter lays out in his first epistle.
Do you remember playing that “What do these things have in common?” game when you were younger? You’d have to look at a group of pictures or a list of words and determine what the common denominator was. For example, if I say: “Black, Brown, and Grizzly…What do these three have in common?” They’re all bears. You get the point.
Let’s try another one: A Calendar. A Palm Tree. A Singles Bar…What do these three things have in common? Dates! A calendar has dates on it. Dates grow on a type of palm tree. And people go to a singles bar looking for dates.
Let’s try another one: A massage. A mint. Glasses. Scented candles. Headphones. Answer: All of these items affect one of the five senses.
What about this: Tiger Woods and the Boston Red Sox. What do they have in common? Cheating!
And one more: (Show Toy Story pictures)…They are all toys, yes. What else? They are all from Toy Story, yes. What else? They all belong to Andy!
Not too long ago, our 3-year old Olivia and 2-year-old Elizabeth were in a Toy Story obsession…watching each Toy Story movie, one right after the other, over and over again. Well, I began to notice a theme that weaves throughout each movie. And that is, identity.
You know the story: The cowboy, Woody, confronts the space ranger, Buzz Lightyear, with the fact that he is only an action figure and not really a space hero. Then Buzz attempts to fly, trying to prove that he is, in fact, a space ranger. He leaps off a railing and suffers a big fall. Grief-stricken and disillusioned, Buzz hangs his head in resignation. Then Woody encourages Buzz with the timely message that he belongs to Andy. This is a most important reminder for Buzz!
See, anytime Woody or Buzz or any of the other toys forget who they are, depression and hardship always seem to follow. But when they remember they are Andy’s much-loved toys–his prized possession—they flourish!
So, let me ask you this: as you look around this room, what do you see?
People younger than you?
Older than you?
Skinnier than you?
People of different race?
People of different political affiliation?
People of different economic status?
What about when you look in the mirror? What do you see?
Do you see an insecure and hurting person?
Do you see someone exhausted from marital conflict?
Do you see a liar?
Or do you see a friend of Jesus?
Do you look in the mirror and see someone who can never be separated from the love of God?
Do you look in the mirror and see–no longer a sinner–but a saint who has been redeemed by Jesus and adopted by God?
See, these are all questions of “identity.” And the Bible has a lot to say about our identity. Once you put your trust in the Lord Jesus and follow Him, there are a lot of things that become true of you; of who you are.
As a follower of Jesus, you are God’s child.
You are Christ’s friend;
you are justified;
you are redeemed and forgiven;
you are complete in Christ;
you are forever free from condemnation;
you are God’s workmanship;
you are His co-worker;
you are God’s prized possession!
This last one is the aspect of our new identity that we’re going to focus on today: We are God’s prized possession!
We’re going to be looking at 1 Peter 2:4-10, which reveals to us several realities of being chosen by God as his prized possession.
So a little bit of background first. 1st Peter is a letter written by the apostle Peter. Everyone remembers Peter. What we remember most about him is his denial of Jesus. Mention the name Peter, and even those who don’t know much about the Bible seem to be able to recall a rooster and a guy named Peter who swore he didn’t know who Jesus was. That same Peter—the one person everybody figured was all washed up—actually became one of the pillars of the early church.
About thirty years after witnessing the Resurrected Jesus, Peter finds himself in Rome writing this letter to a group of Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor, which would be modern day Turkey. These were Christians who were, for the most part, very poor. They felt like they were the least of society. They were looked down upon. And their persecution was on the rise.
So, 1st Peter is a letter of hope in the midst of suffering and persecution. Peter writes to strengthen and encourage his readers in the very face of their problems—he wants to remind them who they are as children of God.
It’s against this backdrop that we’ll look at today’s passage. A backdrop of uncertainty. A backdrop of hopelessness. Of insecurity and discouragement. It’s against this backdrop where God, through Peter, reminds these first century Christians and us 21st century Christians that we are God’s prized possession.