Summary: Unless we look like the picture God describes for us here in I Peter, the world will reject our witness. What does God say I need to look like and how can that help win the unsaved to Jesus?
OPEN: How many of you have ever had a passport?
You realize that when you visit a foreign land, you MUST have a passport, because without that document you cannot move around inside their country. That passport says who you are, what nation you belong to… and it has a picture of you inside.
ILLUS: I read the true story of a woman who traveled a lot and eventually needed to get a new passport. She posed for a new picture, and as she handed in her 10-year-old passport she took one more longing look at the picture inside. Then she looked up at the clerk and sighed.
"I like this original picture better.”
The clerk smiled and said "Trust me. Ten years from now, you'll like this one."
ILLUS: One of the websites I visited noted that there’s a universal loathing of passport photos. Everybody seems to hate their pictures. Some people even believe that the passport office employs the same people that take your pictures down at the license branch.
One person complained “(I) look like a convicted and unrepentant mass murderer”
Another wrote “I looked like a very happy pig.”
Everybody seemed to agree. They didn’t think they looked like their picture. But whether they liked their photograph or not… they had better look like that picture. Because if they were to travel abroad and crossed a border into another country they would be asked to present their passport to the proper authorities.
And if they didn’t look like their picture… they’re not going anywhere.
Now, Peter tells us here that we are "strangers in this land". Thus we need to have a passport. And Peter describes the picture that appears there that the world will look for on our passport – a picture he insists that we MUST look like. Because if we don’t look like that picture… we’re not going anywhere for Jesus.
That picture is our passport in this world.
That picture tells people who we are and whose Kingdom we belong to.
And everybody knows what that picture is supposed to look like.
In fact – if we don’t look like that picture, people have a word to describe us.
A hypocrite is someone who tries to look like somebody that they’re not.
And God says: this picture I’m showing you in I Peter IS your passport to this world.
This is what you are supposed to look like.
So… what are we supposed to look like?
1st I’m told I should… “Be holy, because (God is) holy.” I Peter 1:16
(PAUSE) Does that strike anybody else as being a little odd?
The idea that I can be holy?
I thought only God was holy.
But apparently we can be too. God said we could. In fact you and I are instructed to “Be holy in all that (we) do.” I Peter 1:15
But, how do we do that? How can we be HOLY?
Well, it helps to understand that holiness is a very simple concept.
Holiness means to be “set apart.”
The Greek word for “holiness” comes from the same root word as Saint and Sanctify and it means essentially the same thing. When we become Christians we are “set apart.”
ILLUSTRATION – Our sound crew, back in the back, is “separated” from the rest of us by a wall. They are “set apart” or “holy” compared to the rest of us.
Now holiness is a two-step process:
1st God makes you holy. When you became a Christian, God set you apart from rest of the world. You were “over here” and they were “over there”. You get to go to heaven… they don’t. Not because you are more “righteous” than they are, but because you accepted God’s free gift of salvation.
2ndly NOW that you’re a Christian, God expects you to set yourself apart from the world. He expects you to behave, and think and live differently than those of the world. That’s what Peter is saying when he says “Be holy in all that you do.”
“Set yourself apart from this world. Don’t be like them.”
Don’t go down to the bars.
Don’t join in the foul jokes and the cursing matches.
Don’t watch the same movies/TV shows/ or read the same books.
ILLUS: Recently there’s been a popular book making the rounds called “50 Shades of Grey”. How many of you have heard of it?
It’s on the best seller list and the news media has touted it as the next great novel. They say it is amusing, intriguing and a powerful “erotic novel”.
Now, it may be erotic. It may even be well written and intriguing. But it’s just an evil story in fancy language. It’s an evil novel, written by an evil person, and it will be turned into an evil movie.