hristians live differently than those who don't follow Christ, or at least they're suppose too. One of the sad realities in the U.S. is that Christians divorce as much as the non-believers. A study I read back in the 1980's showed no difference in behavior between Christian teens and secular teens when it came to sexual practice. Those "kids" are now in their 40's.
If Christians are suppose to live differently why don't they? If we're suppose to live differently why don't we? It's not a new phenomena, Peter saw the risk of being swept away with the culture even in the first century and so he deals with this question in this general letter to a variety of churches.
"Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear." This harkens back to the "therefore" in v. 13. The self-control and holiness are part of what it means to live in "reverent fear". God is a loving Father, but as Eugene Peterson says in his paraphrase of verse 17, "he's also a responsible Father who won't let you get away with slopping living."
Peter compares the perishable with the eternal. It's already been implied when he lists the nature of the inheritance which God is keeping for us in heaven. That perfect, untouchable, and incorruptible future that is ours because of Christ is part of the non-perishable gift that we have received because of the "blood of Christ".
In Hawthorne Phyllis and I had a large chest freezer stop working. Because we didn't use it every day we didn't notice it for a while. When we did notice it that which we had thought was non-perishable, beef, fish and pork, had perished. It was a smell I'll never quite forget. Yet the truth is we're surrounded by the perishable ever day. Death takes these we love long before we're ready to say goodbye. Disease saps the energy and weighs others and us down with no sense of relief in sight. With the wars and other situations going on it can seem pretty hopeless and bleak.
Peter defines the perishable as what one can purchase, "silver or gold" and the traditions of the past, "empty way of life handed down from their forefathers". It's pretty apparent to me that such things can be a threat to us as well. In fact I believe that sometimes the "sloppy living" that goes on, among those who name Christ as Lord, is because we've elevated the perishable above the eternal.
It is idolatry to believe that money will make everything okay. It's idolatry to believe our past offers the hope for our future. Why, because to place anything, money, past glories, grudges, things, people in a place reserved for God alone, the center of our attention is idolatry. It is wrong also because when we seek after these perishable answers we often end up preserving ourselves at the expense of others.
The imperishable is Jesus Christ. Not some glorified spiritual teacher but the sacrificial lamb whose blood is the shed to save us, redeem us and ransom us from our sin. There are those who don't like to talk about this. They want to keep Jesus some sort of misunderstood spiritual leader. When The Passion of the Christ was released in Italy an author Riccardo Zucconi, said wouldn't let his children to see the film, "because I want them to have this idea of the spirituality of Christ, not this idea of debauchery. The soul of Jesus is important, not his body." Dr. Paul Capetz at the 2002 Covenant Presbyterian conference said, "What about atonement? We don't need any more crucifixions." This is the same Dr. Capetz who was voted on by his Presbytery to be returned to the ministry even though he refuses to believe in and says he will not support parts of our church constitution.
If you take away the blood of Christ you take away salvation. You take away redemption. We remain enemies of God and we are without hope. It is only the perfect and eternally effective sacrifice of Christ that secures our future as imperishable.
Verse 22 Peter says something that harkens back to his time in Christ's presence. He says, "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." I need to break this down for us a bit more. The purification, in this place, doesn't come from God but from us. There is, in Peter a sense of responsibility for our actions and/or inactions. We will see in just a few verses later on this same thought where we are told we are to be in the process of ridding ourselves or laying aside various evil actions.
Verse 22 uses the word twice. It is first called "sincere love" and then "love one another deeply." Peter tells us that being made clean happens as we have a deep respect or brotherly type love for others. The Greek word is the root for Philadelphia. The second use however is the word "agape". It's the word used of God's love for the world in John 3:16 and signifies a choice to love not an emotional response to someone or something .
Peter knew all about these two words because they are the two words used by him and Jesus when Jesus meets with him along the sea. "Peter do you agape me?" Lord you know I phileo you", Peter answers.
Peter further defines how this agape love is to be shown. It is with a pure heart and with fervency. Our concern is free from any sort of deception or ulterior motive. Our love truly is focused on what is best for our brother or sister in Christ. And it's a love that doesn’t go slack. It is remains strong. It doesn't lose its ardor or power. Is that type of loving easy? Not at all, but it is just one more sign that we've been "born again" [v. 3] by that which is imperishable, namely the "word of God."
Chapter 2 starts with "therefore". Because of the word of God, because of the love we are to constantly and purely exercise toward our fellow believers we are to live through any difficulty by not doing some things and by doing others.
Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander have no place in the life of a believer. These aren't self-directed but other directed. In the midst of trials and the momentary grief we may experience it is possible to be strike back and seek revenge of those who have wronged us. We can be tempted to lie in such a way that we trap those who have hurt us. This is the attitude of those Jewish leaders who tried to trap Jesus with their questions.
Hypocrisy is intentional. It is knowingly and with forethought acting as someone you are not so that you deceive another person. Those who tell racist jokes at work yet stand up on Sunday and sing, "In Christ there is no East or West" are hypocrites. Being ticked off that other people are doing better than you and telling lies or speaking ill of others are also actions we are to be rid of. Notice Peter does not tell us to “fight the good fight”, or "to war against" or to try hard not to do these things, but instead to lay them aside as one would lay a garment aside to get rid of it.
In their place are positive attitudes. We are to be focused on Christ and His desires so that everything else fades away. Ever been around a hungry baby? They don't want to play with their toys. They don't want to be rocked. They don't want to be changed. They don't want anything but food; it doesn't get more basic than that. If the object we desire were evil this word is often translated "lust". We are to go after the unmixed food that brings us maturity. Growing up and crave are both commands. They aren't options. But our growth aids us and makes us stronger in Christ.
 http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=295 " Born again Christians who are not evangelical were indistinguishable from the national average on the matter of divorce: 33% have been married and divorced."
 http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2004-04-05-passion-overseas_x.htm accessed April 18, 2008 Interesting comment by the president of Italy's film review board, who said, "The children who have already taken Communion and know the Gospel will know what The Passion is."