Summary: A look at who we are in Christ
Who and Why: Our identity in Christ - -1 Peter 2:9-12 - 3/22/15
Turn with me this morning to the end of your bibles, to the book of 1 Peter. It’s the 7th book from the end, so if you can find Revelation, the last book, turn to the left a few pages until you find 1 Peter. We’ll be looking today in 1 Peter chapter 2.
Peter writes to the Christians who were scattered throughout Asia Minor, the area that is today called Turkey. And he knows problems are going to come to them, just like they come into our lives today. Peter encourages them in chapter 1 that because God is with us, and because he loves us and protects us, God wants to use the trials we face to be a source of joy and growth in our lives. We need to choose to respond to trials with hope!
And then in chapter 2, Peter goes on to remind us of who we are. He starts chapter 2 by reminding us that we are all children in the same family. And as such, we need to all get along. Too many families face “sibling rivalry” - brothers and sisters who need to get along. I’ve done funerals before where two brothers have walked in, shook hands, and then walked to separate corners of the funeral home, not talking to each other the whole time there. But far too often in the church, we need to be reminded that we all need to get along. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul even had to write to the church at Philippi and encourage them to get involved in promoting reconciliation between some members who had difficulty getting along. He says, I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel. One of the ways we show our identity with Christ is by loving one another. Psalm 133 - How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! As Jesus met with his disciples the last night before the crucifixion, he tells them, By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Then Peter goes on to tell us that we are all stones in the same building in 2:5. When you look at an old stone house or church - I grew up in PA and they were all over the place - each stone is different from the stone beside it, but each works together with all the other stones to makes the walls. Our goal in the church is not uniformity - we don’t need to try to be just like every other Christian in the church - rather our goal is unity - to agree on the essentials. Paul writes in Ephesians 3 - Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Then Paul goes on to mention the different gifts given to Christians. We each have differing gifts, but we all use them to build up the body of Christ. And in that same passage Paul goes on to explain their purpose - so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ.
So, that brings us to 1 Peter 2:9. We don’t allow ourselves to get discouraged by circumstances, instead we draw strength from God and from one another. Now Peter goes on to explain who we are as Christians. Look with me in verse 9.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Today, as we look at these verses, Peter reminds us who we are in Christ Jesus. Sometimes, as we focus on all the sin and temptation we face on a daily basis, Satan gets us to see ourselves as miserable failures. But Peter reminds us of how God sees us, of who we really are. Let’s remember that today.