Summary: Living on Mission in a Foreign Land War and Witness and/For God's Glory
Living on Mission in a Foreign Land
War and Witness and/For God's Glory
We finished our first mini series in 1 Peter, “Foreigners in a Foreign Land.” Today we start our second mini series, “Living on Mission in a Foreign Land,” 2.11-4.11. Today we look at “War and Witness for God's Glory.”
Big Idea – As the church, the new Israel, we are to live in a way that points people to Jesus.
Our Identity as the New People of God
Peter calls us sojourners and exiles. A sojourner is one who travels to a foreign land as a visitor; exiles are people who have been displaced from their homeland. This is the way God described Israel. Once again Peter is transferring the titles originally reserved for Israel to the church, showing that the church fulfills Israel as the new people of God. So the church is the new people of God, made up of Jews and Gentiles who put their faith in Christ. We are sojourners and exiles in this world. This is not our home; this is not our country. We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth. We must constantly remind ourselves of this and cultivate this mindset.
Our War we Wage as the People of God
Peter commands us to abstain from fleshly passions. The flesh is that part of our fallen nature that rebels against and disobeys God in every area of life. Earlier Peter called them passions of our former ignorance. These passions wage war against our soul. These passions or desires lead to sinful actions. Notice he commands us to abstain from sinful passions before he tells us to keep our conduct good. So the battle for good conduct, holiness, begins and focuses on defeating these desires. The war against sin must attack those desires, which is the root of sin. There are two verses I bank my hope for change that encourage me in my fight against sin. It is knowing and understanding God and the affections that rise from this understanding that kill sinful desires. Change is a process that is frustratingly slow and painful but we are promised a gradual process of overcoming these passions.
How do we know if we are losing the battle to these passions? Well, first I would ask is how are your affections for Jesus? Do you see him as your treasure and do you protect that relationship or are you drifting, is the relationship stale and functional; maybe even boring? Second, how is your time in the word and prayer? The word is your primary weapon of mass destruction in killing wrong desires. The word is the primary tool for moral transformation; the second is community. The clearer you see God and Christ the greater your desire and appetite for him will be. If you are not pursuing Christ in the context of community, sin will have the upper hand in your life and you will lose the battle with sin. It will slowly blind you, numb you, and take away all your desire and appetite for Christ. You will lose interest in God, in church; his word, community, and telling others about Christ.
Our Mission as the People of God
Peter gives us two reasons for waging this war against our fleshly passions and keeping our conduct good among the Gentiles. The first is that they would see your good deeds and secondly glorify God as a result. I think Peter was influenced by Jesus on this idea. On the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Peter assumes people will malign us and attack us for our faith, but some will come to faith. Some of you have spouses or friends that malign your faith. Live your life as one who hopes in God above every counterfeit hope this world offers you and you will point them to the glory of God. But how does our transformed lives point people to the glory of God? Peter tell us, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. What Peter is saying here is that when people look at you, what they see expressed in your actions is what you hope in. So they see a certain way of acting—some humble act of love or some righteous act of courage or some self-denying act of generosity and they notice that you must not be hoping in what people usually hope in—self-exaltation, safety, money—and they are puzzled as to where your hope is. So they ask about your hope - where do you get your confidence, your contentment, your satisfaction when you act that way? When we direct our desires to God and find hope and contentment in his mercy and power and promises, then our outward life starts to show what Peter calls good conduct —a humble love and fearless courage and self-denying generosity and joyful simplicity and peaceful suffering. These behaviors point to God's glory because they point to a stable, sure, satisfying object of desire and hope that is not of this world.