Summary: As "sojourners and pilgrims" in this world, how are we to conduct ourselves?
I Peter 2:9-12 “Sojourners and Pilgrims”
Intro—It is a fact of life that peoples’ perceptions of events and other people differ...no two witnesses to an event ever see exactly the same thing in the same way, because not only do their views of the event differ, but also the amount of attention they are paying, their attitudes toward what they’re seeing, any preconceived notions they might have, their own experience and many other things all differ from those of other witnesses, and so what they perceive differs.
If you’ve been following the Olympics, you’ve seen this in action in the last couple of weeks...the Canadians, the Lithuanians, the Russians and the South Koreans all believe they got robbed in one sport or another. And I think that their arguments are based on their perceptions, not just of a sporting event, but of their place in the world. And, to the extent their perceptions are misperceptions, they tend to cause bad feelings in the world community.
In the same way, misperceptions about the church are, I think we would all agree, some of the biggest problems facing the church today. Misperceptions that occur in and out of the church...some churches perceive themselves to be social clubs, some are political action committees, some are instruments of social justice, and some seem to have no idea of their purpose at all. Of those outside the church, some see it as simply irrelevant to today, some see it as a crutch for the weak-minded, some see it as a con game and a sham at worst, or a money-making business at best.
In I Peter, the apostle wants to make sure that the church does not misperceive its place in the world. He wants us to understand properly the duties of the church as a body. Remember, he has given us instructions as to our individual way of life, but now he wants to talk to us as a group...and so last week, we saw him refer to the church as a spiritual house being built up by God, and now he’s going to tell us a little more about what the purpose of the spiritual house is, and how we should integrate ourselves into the world. And as we’ll see, we need to think of it in those terms, “integrating ourselves into the world,” because what Peter is going to tell us is that we are no longer truly a part of this world.
I. The first duty of the church is its duty to God. In I Peter 2:9, Peter says 4 things about the church...he says it is a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and His own special people...these expressions are all taken from the Old Testament, specifically Exodus 19:6 and Isaiah 43:20-21, and they referred, in the Old Testament, to Israel. Peter is saying that these titles apply now to the Christian church. We are “chosen...royal...holy...special.” (That word “special,” translated “peculiar” in your King James Version could be translated “destined to be God’s possession.”) Clearly, what Peter wants us to understand is that the church is something unique in the world...a body belonging solely to God, a group that is to be entirely dedicated to God and to His service...and Peter immediately tells us what that service consists of...to “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
“Proclaiming the praises” of God is the reason we are here, says Peter...that proclaiming takes two forms...one is the act of worship to God...when we meet here together on a Sunday morning, or evening or Wednesday, or whenever we meet, our goal should be to proclaim the praises of God, and to thank Jesus Christ for the awesome sacrifice he made on our behalf on the cross of Calvary.
The second way we “proclaim the praises” of God is by taking Him to our relatives, neighbors and friends, and that is the second duty of the Christian I want to talk about this morning…
II. The second duty Peter wants to make clear to the church is the duty of the church in the world. I want to be careful here to describe this as the duty of the church “in” the world and not “to” the world, because really, the church’s duty is always to God—but the world can’t understand the church’s role as a people holy to God, as a royal priesthood...those things are understood between God and His Church, not between God’s church and the world, and so Peter, in verse 11, begins to tell us about how the world sees us, and he begins by addressing us as “sojourners and pilgrims.” Now a sojourner is a person who is just staying in a place temporarily, and a pilgrim is someone who is a traveler, sometimes on a spiritual journey. So Peter is telling us as believers that we are just here temporarily...this stop here is just a pause in our spiritual journey with God.