Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Follow Me: Staying with Jesus
Training in Discipline
“Discipleship, is a state of being. Discipleship is about how we live; not just the decisions we make, not just the things we believe, but a state of being.”
1 Peter Context:
One of the things I want you to see when we study together is that Scripture should not be ripped out of its context and dropped into ours. This is a letter written by a person for a purpose to a people. The ancient context of this letter will actually speak into our world but let’s not skip steps to get to a coffee cup scripture....we will miss some of the power of God’s word.
Likely written by Peter, the disciple we have come to know well through the gospels and after Jesus’ death and resurrection, this fisherman becomes a great leader of the new movement.
Peter would be killed, some think in similar fashion as Paul at the hands of Nero. Persecuted for his faith. Writing to a region of churches facing similar difficulties.
To be Jewish in the Roman world is to face great difficulties, sometimes resulting in persecution.
Roman gods, disrespected, culture challenged.
Then to be Greek Jesus follower was even worse. A threat.
The audience, these churches are facing difficulties. And we may not be experiencing the same type of difficulty, but Peter’s instruction is not just for times of persecution but what it means to be a people and how being together is so important.
Peter is going to lay out all of this instruction, imperatives…do this and dont do this. Live this way. And as you do, you will be “living stones being built into a spiritual house.
House without the cornerstone
It is just a house, just a gathering of stones, it does not have its purpose
Cornerstone without the blocks
In a crazy sense, Peter says, this is how people will fully see God in the world. The church built around him.
This is your offering, to be this house. This temple to the world. What does this look like? I think Peter gives us the vision of the house in the preceeding verses, particularly through 5 imperatives of the text.
Building the Spiritual House:
Set your hope on Jesus
Live as foreigners
Set your hope on Jesus
Set your hope on Jesus
The first imperative is to set your hope on Jesus. The future hope that Jesus will return and make all things new, but also the hope that reaches back into the present…look at verse 13
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
This is the first instruction for the house: Focus on the cornerstone, the living stone, Jesus.
Minds that are alert and fully sober.... Gird up the loins of your mind. Sometimes they take out all of the fun in the english translation. It is a metaphor. Like someone that is about to wrap up their outter garments so they can take off whenever they need to.
This is what Peter is saying to do with your mind. Even as you wait for Jesus to return, I want you to focus on him. Train your mind.
Who in your life, do you give place for spiritual and meaningful conversations?
Class meeting home groups....
The second imperative is is to be holy. This is exactly what we talked about a couple of weeks ago if you were here when we began this series. 1 Peter 1:15....
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
Holiness is about staying with the Rabbi and being transformed, being changed by your time with the teacher, our leader. Being holy is about being conformed into the image of the son.
Remember, Skinny white jeans....
Live as foreigners
Live as foreigners
The next imperative is an important one, and one I think we often miss the mark with.
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
Sharing fellowship encouraging one another as you live in a foreign land. Citizenship with the kingdom, as Paul puts it.
We are in the world and not of the world, a frame of mind, a way of being that instructs that this land is not for us.... Friends, this is not retreatal language....this is speaking back into the Roman context where everything is Ceasars. Your allegiance is to the emporer, and your social commitment is to the classes, and your religion is for the gods, what you do and what you eat is all determined. This is the language that says, now we are different. We have different commitments, and we live differently on the weekends, and we will not pull away from this land but we will be kingdom focused and stay together on this.
In High School, I remember a group of us making this commitment that we would be different. Probably after one of those summers of giving my life to God....and we went to school and ate together, carried our bible, not in our backpack, but in our hands....oooooooooooo. We sat together in the cafeteria and made a show of praying together. We were trying to be foreigners in the land, but I think we might have missed it.
Church, here is the tricky thing. Living as foreigners in the land is not about looking like Christians, it is about being Christians. Our hearts were in the right place, but the fellowship is to help encourage that we are becoming like the cornerstone. We didnt seek out the lonely kid and have lunch with him in the cafeteria.
Fourth, we are to love each other deeply. Living as a family. Look at verse 22:
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
Sharing with someone this week about some of the personal stressors in my life right now and the difficulty of moving as an itinerant pastor in all of this. The groups was very supportive and expressed empathy. One night when I decided to call it a night and leave the pastors to get some sleep, one of them got up and walked with me back to my room…I thought it was odd, told the group he would be back. He said JW, I have been thinking about your family all day. How are you today? Where are you right now? How is your heart? That was the difference in being empathetic and walking in the trench with me. Loving me deeply.
This is how you live as a one being built around the cornerstone, if you will love deeply from the love of Jesus.
How many times do we allow anyone in to see us when our masks are off? How many times do we settle for shallow empathy instead of the deep sacrificial love?
Finally, we are to crave growth. Well, what he says is to crave pure spiritual milk....check it out.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
Marc, sermon this past week about discipline. Sleeping outside the door of the rabbi.
I have been trying to get back to a healthier way of living recently. With the transition, working through Doctoral deadlines, pandemic, young kids. Eating and exercise kind of went out the window. Trying to work off that Covid-15, I know you know what I am talking about....do not look around the room. This past week I was away at a retreat center with other pastors working on leadership development and took all my workout clothes, did not exercise one time. I was lethargic and felt lazy and tired all the time with zoom calls. Ate these big meals they were serving us, drank too much....coffee. I did not grow in the right way.
Can I get personal for a second....
racial conversation, where you are digging into your own trenches instead of learning from one another
and at the end of it all. We are feeble, we are tired, we are exhausted. Because we have lost our appetite for what is most important. We have lost our appetite for our own salvation. We have lost our appetite for Jesus. This appetite comes from being planted in a community of believers on the same journey.
We are being built into the Spiritual House....Yall (not you) in front of every one of these.
Closing with testimony:
A friend of mine, who has given me persmission to share part of his story. My friend has a serious and public moral failure that led to steep repercussions. He could have lost everything. But his family and his church stuck by him. He spent years on probation after this, not even able to come to church. But a community of people, loving Jesus, decided to come to him. They had a small group begin meeting in their house. This is his testimony:
After my life changed for the worst, it changed for the better. Amid the embarrassment and shame, and the feelings of guilt and despair, was abundant grace and community that provided the first and most important steps in the renewal of the faith that holds my life together.
Through an assignment for court-appointed therapy, I recently wrote my life story. In doing so, I became aware of the importance of community and accountability in my life, my choices, and in my behavior. I looked back at all of the peaks and valleys of my story and discovered an interesting recurrence. I found that in the peaks there was always a community providing checks and balances in my life. Conversely, amid all of the valleys I experienced isolation. Be it physical or emotional, I found that my deepest spiritual deficit was always paired with a sense that I was alone. No one really knew me- or cared to. I believed that people loved me, but only because I presented myself without any baggage. My struggles were unique, and therefore a burden to others. My sins were mine to bear. Even after I got married and had children, I felt that I was saving them from pain and heartache by withholding my struggles and presenting myself as positive and self-assured.
It wasn’t until my truth was thrust into the spotlight that I came out of isolation and into a community that [my church] provided, and welcomed me into. Since then, honesty, vulnerability, and transparency have been crucial to my recovery, and rediscovery of the life that Christ wants for me. [My Small group] has provided me and others an outlet to rediscover Christ in our lives. We share the triumphs and the failures that we experience weekly, and are given the chance to be fully known and loved by a community of our peers. The group has provided a sense of spiritual, emotional and even physical community that I have been craving. I now have an outlet to pray and praise, and serve alongside my wife. Instead of leading parallel lives, our lives are interconnected and she is my greatest accountability partner. The same can be said for our [small] group of twelve. The way we share and support one another is community as Christ intended within the church body. We are not intended to be a group of parallel lines, but a cord of many, woven and intersecting with one another. We are honest, vulnerable, and transparent, fulfilling a promise to look after one another in love.”