Summary: Are we more concerned about appearing Christian than we are with being a Christian. How far will we go to keep a Christian reputation and hide our sin?
A rather pompous deacon was endeavoring to impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life.
"Why do people call me a Christian?" the man asked.
After a moment’s pause, one youngster said,
"Maybe it’s because they don’t know you."
I wonder…..could that be said of us? Are we more interested in looking like Christians, than being Christians? Are we more interested in what people think about us, than how we live? By that I mean, are we trying harder to look like we are living a Christian life than we are at actually living the Christian life?
Some time ago I did a funeral for a family. This family was very concerned about their image as a Christian family. The man who had died, though he grew up in the church did not lead a Christian life, in fact he lead a life that was quite the opposite, however, the family informed me that….wonderfully, near the end of his life, he found the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit came upon him in power, and his life was full of the Lord.
When the family spoke about his life, they spoke of his childhood, when he had been in church and they spoke of the last few weeks of his life, when he had given his life over to the Lord. The 50 something years in the middle didn’t seem to exist. When I asked, repeatedly about those pagan years they ignored the question, and spoke about
“the Christian era of his life”. At one point they even requested that I not even mention those “hard times”.
It seems they were very embarrassed about this man’s life. How he had lead his life had ruined the “Christian” image of their family and they were determined that in his death he would be a stain no more.
I was taken back. If they would go this far to protect their family image,
how far would they go in their personal lives to do the same?
I tell you, in the end, I was wondering if they made up the whole thing about him finding Jesus at the end of his life.
Appearances. Oh how we can fool ourselves.
In the book of 1 Peter, which we finished on Ash Wednesday,
the Apostle Peter encouraged us to live holy lives. He encouraged us to live holy lives not only when times were good, even in the most impossible of times. Remember one of the powerful keys he gave us on how to live well during difficult circumstances – foster a gentle and quiet spirit. One that does not react, one that does not attack back – even if we have a right to, because God is in control and he will see us through.
Now in this first chapter of 2 Peter, Peter continues to focus on holiness. He is telling us what we should strive to be, and not just appear to be.
We will examine this passage in three parts verses 1-4, verses 5-7, and verses 8-11. As we go through these verses remember it is not by our power that we achieve, but by God’s power. Also note: Peter is writing to believers about sanctification, not to the unbelievers about salvation. We see this right off in verse one: "To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:"
Through the righteousness of Christ, we have been given faith. I didn’t create my faith – it was given to me. I think many of us make the mistake in thinking that we always had a faith of one kind or another….In our culture we talk a lot about faith. In American society,
when some one tells another, “Keep the faith brother” it usually isn’t about faith in Jesus Christ, but refers to whatever you believe in at the moment or more often, an admonition to keep rooting for your favorite sports team.
“Peter – keep the faith” is the encouragement of another Oakland Raider fan as we live through another year of deep disappointment.
But the San Antonio Spurs are doing fairly well, aren’t they?
Biblically, either we have faith or we don’t. Either I have faith in Jesus Christ – and therefore have faith or I just don’t, period. See, I start out with nothing. I mean nothing. Emptiness. Can you remember how empty you felt? I may have believed in all kinds of things. But until I come to the Lord Jesus Christ, I do not have faith. In fact, the Holy Spirit even gives us the faith to believe.
See verse 1 – we receive our faith. If I already have faith, why do I need to receive faith? Peter is not saying that we are given more faith, does he? We are simply given faith. Bam. That’s humbling isn’t it?