Summary: God used Peter to write these words to a church under pressure, persecuted by the local community. Whatever our circumstances, Jesus has issued us with a missionary mandate to love one another deeply ...
This piece of scripture was written by the apostle Peter to a church which was under pressure. Opposition from the local community was high. Violence and persecution towards the church was quite normal. It is a long way from my experience, but the call of God for the church to be Good News is as relevant for us as it was for the early church.
These words of Peter form part of the missionary calling of the church. It is part of our missionary calling to love one another so that the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13: 34 to 35). Put around the other way, if we fail to love one another then the world will see that we do not love Jesus! Now for me, that is a very sobering thought.
Using the words of the apostle Peter, God calls us to be clear minded and self-controlled (verse 7).
Peter wants us to preserve clear-mindedness and to preserve self-control.
Last Sunday we held 3 Christingle Services in the church building and about 250 people came here to worship Jesus. There were some oranges left over and some of those were used when I visited Fair Infant School & Happy Days pre-school this week to talk about Jesus, ‘the light of the world’ (Jn 8:12). The oranges which were kept in my car boot were great. Over night the temperatures dropped to freezing and they were well preserved. However, those which have remained in the warm conditions of the church extension have started to go mouldy and smelly!
How are things with your clear-mindedness and your self-control; well-preserved or mouldy; ready for action or mouldy and smelly?
To be clear-minded is to be sober and alert, with our judgement not clouded by events around us. To be self-controlled is a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit along with joy. So to be sober is not to be a killjoy, but to be clear-minded so that we can pray!
Prayer is part of the preservative! When we are in a daily conversation with God, speaking to him and listening to him; when we are open to his spirit directing our lives, and filling our souls, self-control and love will not wane. They will be preserved!
I know one or two children who are really very good indeed at talking! They can talk about almost anything under the sun, but when it comes to listening they struggle. As soon as someone else starts to talk, they begin again and an hour later they are still talking, and it is not possible to say that there has been any conversation!
Sometimes we are like that with God when it comes to prayer; great at talking but never listening. No wonder the Bible encourages us to be slow to speak and quick to listen!
So Christians are called to be clear-minded and self-controlled so that we can pray. When we pray, silence is good so that we can listen for the still, small voice of God.
Out of prayer and out of personal relationship with God comes love which we cannot drum up ourselves. I am sure you will agree that there are some people that are so hard, if not impossible to like, let alone love! You are probably thinking of one or two right now. I know I am! However, God calls us to love deeply and that means putting others before ourselves. Their needs, their feelings, coming before our own, and since we are naturally self-seeking that is quite hard, but God does it through us!
Christian love greets another person warmly. It greets warmly the one who has hurt us or offended us. It goes the extra mile in genuinely loving and serving people who we find difficult. It is a servant love, just as Jesus took the form of a servant.
Christian love is deeply hospitable. It involves a continual offering of our homes, our food, our time and our money for those who need it, regardless of whether they can return it to us! Indeed, it is offering love, hospitality and time especially to those who cannot return it!
God calls us to use the gifts which he has given to us. Our homes are a gift from God to us, to be used to serve others. The gifts of God are gifts for serving others.
As we serve (verse 11) in the name of Jesus we are called to serve with a clear-mind and with self-control.
We are called to serve others out of our prayer relationship with God our Father, so that all we do in word and in deed is done with his character, his way!
This way, God gets the glory and we do not. After all, it is his work, and his glory. Amen!