Summary: We will persevere in tough times because we know that we are chosen by God (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, What the Bible Says About the Church: Rediscovering Community, chapter 14 Radically Perseverant pgs. 363-367)
Children playing at school began to tease an adopted child. “You don’t have any real parents,” one boy stated. Another chimed in, “You don’t know who your parents are.” The adopted child simply stated, “Your parents are stuck with you, but my parents chose me.”
Speaking of the family this morning and continuing tonight with our chosenness.
Jesus said to his disciples: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last.” John 15:16, NIV.
Paul says this: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--” Ephesians 1:4, 5, NIV.
“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13, NIV.
Not getting into deep theological understandings for tonight just accepting that we are chosen.
Thesis: We can persevere in tough times because we know that we were chosen by God.
Aliens and Strangers
Peter wrote his letters to an audience similar to John’s- those beginning to feel the pressure of Roman persecution. C.S. Lewis spoke of faith as “the power to go on believing not in the teeth of reason but in the teeth of lust and terror and jealousy and boredom and indifference.” If faith is not able to help us through trials and temptations then it is not biblical faith. Faith enables God’s children to persevere through every trial and trouble, until we reach the Promised Land.
Peter reminded these Christians that they were “aliens and strangers” (2:11) in this world- not because of their geographical location, but because their true identity rested in their citizenship in God’s kingdom, and not in their Roman citizenship. They lived as God’s people in the midst of a pagan culture that grew increasingly suspicious of their countercultural lifestyles.
These aliens and strangers experienced social alienation and hostility because of their faith in Jesus Christ. These Christians no longer felt at home in their culture, since their way of life no longer resembled their neighbors. They experienced a variety of forms of discrimination and accusation from their pagan neighbors because now they were so different from them.
“They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” 1 Peter 4:4, NIV.
Christians who feel increasingly less at home in contemporary culture can find closeness with Peter’s readers. The teenage girl who stands for purity, the salesperson who stands for integrity, and the church who stands for biblical truth recognizes the feeling of alienness. Through its films, television programs, and books, contemporary culture often depicts Jesus’ followers as a group to be ignored as irrelevant, pitied as naive, shunned as suspicious, or attacked as dangerous. The question, “Are you a Christian?” today is not asked to inspire admiration but asked to show scorn and as a put down. Like Peter’s readers, today’s church lives like strangers and aliens in a foreign land.
This past Tuesday I was given a voters guide for Indiana. In that voters guide one of the questions asked the candidates seeking office is if they support protecting women and children from male cross dressers having access to women’s restrooms. I thought how ridiculous. The next day a news story from Houston, TX came to my attention. In Houston, TX they have made it legal for men to go into women’s restrooms and for women to go into men’s restrooms. Evidently some preachers have spoken out about this so the mayor of Houston has ordered preachers to submit their sermons for review that discuss this issue and homosexuality. On Friday she changed her tune somewhat and just wanted communications from the preachers to others that discuss this matter, not sermons. The differences and distance between us and our culture is getting wider every day.
Chosen by God
Peter’s encouragements in his letters hold great hope for Christians today. Though we live as strangers here we have received a “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” 1 Peter 1:3-6, NIV.
Though shunned by our culture, we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NIV. 2 things here: