Summary: STAY PLUGGED INTO GOD’S WORD. It gives us new life. It gives us a new attitude.
One of the first things we did after we moved to St. Albert was to make our car Canadian. Besides getting a new license plate this meant installing a block heater for those cold Albertan mornings. As wonderful as a block heater may be it is useless unless you plug it in. No, really Pastor - you had to tell me that? Well do you realize that we are just as dead unless we are plugged into God’s Word? As we head into the new year the Apostle Peter encourages us to stay plugged into God’s Word because the Word alone gives us new life and a new attitude towards others.
Why do we say that we are useless unless plugged into God’s Word? Jesus once told Nicodemus that unless he was born again he could not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. When we were born we inherited certain physical and spiritual traits from our parents. Maybe you have your father’s eyes, or your mother’s hair. One thing is certain though; we all inherited our parents’ sinfulness. That’s what Jesus meant when he told Nicodemus that flesh gives birth to flesh (John 3:3).
Therefore, before we can see God face to face we need to get cleaned up. Jesus told Nicodemus that he could receive such cleansing through the washing of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). This was a reference to baptism assuring those who have been baptized that they have been wiped clean of their sins.
Unfortunately many Christians are skeptical of baptism’s power. They wonder how water can do such wonderful things. The power to cleanse, however, lies not in the water but in the Word. Peter speaks about the power of God’s Word when he says, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). Just as detergent gives water the power to clean our clothes so God’s Word gives the water of baptism the power to cleanse us from sin.
Therefore those words that we read in the Bible are not just a bunch of stories written thousands of years ago by some quirky religious guys; it’s God’s Word. And when we read the Bible we are grabbing onto a power line that connects us to a potent power source. God’s Word in the Bible has the same power as the Word that he used to create and sustain the world. It has the same strength as the Word that Jesus used to bring Lazarus back from the dead. Just think, when doctors want to treat someone today they have to hook them up to IV tubes, give them drugs, and in extreme cases try to get their hearts beating again by electro shock treatment. Jesus didn’t use any of that though to bring Lazarus back to life; he simply spoke the Word. If the Word can bring back a dead body think of what it can do to a spiritually dead heart.
Stay plugged into God’s Word. That’s what brought you to faith and that’s what will continue to sustain you in the days ahead. The great thing about the power of God’s Word is that it’s free. While the cost of heating and powering our homes may be on the rise, the cost of strengthening and maintaining faith will never change. God’s Word is not only free; it’s reliable because it endures forever. Therefore those who plug into the Word will endure forever as well.
God’s Word does much more than give us a new life; it gives us a new attitude towards others. Peter said, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
Since the Word has purified us we can love one another with a sincere love. The original meaning of the word sincere means “to be without a mask.” When the Greeks put on plays the actors would change their character by exchanging the mask that they held in front of their face. When Peter admonishes us to love each other with a sincere love he is directing us to love one another with a love that is not masked, or feigned.
That’s easier said than done isn’t it? We are pretty good at making small talk, joking and laughing with someone that we may inwardly despise. Instead of talking out our differences we would rather mask them. Or perhaps we have perfected the art of watching TV and holding a conversation at the same time? Instead of giving our spouse, brother and sister, or child our undivided attention we think that if we make a few comments and nod our head as if interested we can trick them into thinking that we really care about what they have to say. Is that what Peter had in mind when he talked about loving each other with an unmasked love? Hardly!