Summary: God encourages His children to rejoice in their salvation through Jesus, even if they are experiencing suffering. Holy living is not a product of ‘smooth sailing’. It is a choice, regardless of life-events or life-circumstances.
Scripture Text: 1 Peter 1.17-23
Someone asked-a-question: “What’s a WAC2BL?” ~
For starters, …it’s the theme for the next-several-weeks. But, more-than-that, …WAC2BL is a question… …It’s a question that-arises out-of-a sense-of-confusion. And the confusion - or uncertainty - it stems from a clash ~ …a clash of ideas, …a clash between tradition and innovation, …clashes between wealth and poverty, …clashes between generations, …and clashes between likes and dis-likes. And there’s not a single-one-of-us that’s immune to these clashes, …and the consternation that settles-in, as-a-result.
WAC2BL is a question. And the question is this: What’s a Church to Be Like?
When you look at the landscape, …there is so-much variety when-it-comes-to churches! In any-given-community, …the variety is almost-staggering: …some are Main Street, …while others are backwoods; …some are known for their programs and productions, …while others are known for pot-lucks; …some are kid-friendly …and others appeal to the older-crowd; …some congregations are liturgical, …while others are “free”; …some are highly-involved in their community, …while others keep to themselves; …some have stained-glass-windows and towering-steeples, …while others meet in school-cafeterias.
I’m not sayin’ anything new, here ~ …you’ve noticed all-this before! But it begs-the-question: …with all this incredible variety, …and all the differences that exist between churches, …is there anything that we share; …anything that holds us together; …such-that we can truly look at one-another as brothers and sisters?
But, more-to-the-point of this series-of-sermons: …in-terms-of-our-congregation, what are we supposed to be like? ~ Is there something that binds us together?
Far-too-often, we’ve focused on things that divide: For decades the church has argued over the style of music, …some battle over pews-vs-chairs, …and some throw-out-tradition, in favor of what-ever-the-new-trend is.
We-Christians get bent-outta-shape about all kinds-of-stuff ~ …stuff that-really-isn’t that-big-o-deal, in the grand-scheme of things. In fact, a lot of divisions and arguments that congregations-go-through would-dissolve if they would-celebrate those-things that hold us together, …instead of getting ourselves all-tied-up-in-knots over trivial-matters!
I. Who We Be
Which brings-us right back to where we began… What’s a church to be like? ~ It all begins with knowing who we are. We are the redeemed children-of-God. Peter says:
“it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life… but with the precious blood of Christ”. (1 Pe 1.18-19)
How many times have you been asked to introduce yourself to a new group of people? It’s an uncomfortable-experience for many-people... You might tell your name, …where you’re from, …what you do for a living. But… how do you introduce who you are, …at the core-of-your-being?
How do you introduce yourself ~ …telling where you live, …what your hobbies are, …what you do for a living, …maybe you-mention some outstanding accomplishments…
But the problem with these things is that skirts-the-issue: It focuses on outward-things; …but… Our identity is not based on outward things, …but-instead on what’s inside. You can’t judge a book by its cover! ~ That’s the old-saying! Do you know what I’m sayin’?...
We’re so-used-to lookin’ at the cover-of-the-book, and jumpin’-to-conclusions about who-and-what they are, based-on what we see.
But, in the first-chapter-of Peter’s letter, …we find God telling us that things really-move in the opposite-direction: …that what-is-visible on-the-outside should arise-from what’s already-in-place on-the-inside!
Who you-are is not based on what you do ~ …nor on your titles or degrees, …position or accomplishments. Rather, …who-you-are is based on an inward-reality. And the inward reality is: You are a redeemed child-of-God. And that’s got nothin’-to-do with your actions or accomplishments or achievements. It-is what-it-is, …based solely on what God did for you through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. He redeemed you. He redeemed me. In-fact, …we’re all a bunch-of-sinners, rescued and redeemed by the grace-of-God. That’s who we are. It’s our identity. In your heart-of-hearts, …at the center of your self-image, …this should be the echo that grabs your attention: “I belong to God! “He snatched me out of the ‘pit’, …out of the ‘miry clay’; “…and-now, I am redeemed, all glory to His name!”
This fact: that I’m a sinner saved-by-grace, …redeemed out of the clutches of sin, …this fact should-stand at the heart of every-Christian’s picture-of-himself.
And-while the Bible uses lots-of-word-pictures to describe our identity-in-Christ (who-we-are in our heart-of-hearts) ~ …in chapter one, Peter calls us “strangers”. He says:
“live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”
The New Living Translation says-it-this-way:
“you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as ‘foreigners in the land’”.
Strangers… Foreigners… Aliens: This world ain’t our home. In the words of the old-gospel-songs: …we’re just a travellin’ through!
In the New Testament Book of Romans, we read that Christ died “while we were still sinners.” And in the New Testament Letter to the Corinthians, we are encouraged to, “Think of what you were when you were called.”