Joy to the world

Hillsong Worship

1 Peter 1:13-25

We don’t like standing out from the crowds.  We want everyone to like us.  Many of us never move past that middle-school mindset of trying to fit in; We still want to sit at the cool table.  But Peter teaches that the weird table is so much better.

Sermon Audio

Questions for Discussion

  1. Peter begins this section with an important word.  What is it?  What previous idea is he building on.  Why do we often forget this concept?
  2. How can we make the holiness of God our motive for pursuing personal holiness?
  3. What do you think Peter means by “conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1:17)?
  4. How can we be holy as Christians at home/work/neighborhood?  How can those with kids teach them to be holy?
  5. What preferences might we mistake for holiness?

Sermon Manuscript

Last week, we kicked off our study of 1 Peter, as we transitioned into more a more expository style of teaching.  We want to be a church that knows the bible.  That falls in love with God’s Words.  That doesn’t settle for simplistic answers, or what we heard some preacher say one-time, so it must be true.  We want to be a church that knows how AND is willing to go to God’s written word to seek answers.  To gain strength.  To discover hope.

I want to again encouraged you to read 1 Peter in full each week while we do this study.  That’s your homework.  Using apps like YouVersion, will allow you to read multiple translations each week.  So you might choose the NLT one week, the NIV the next, the ESV, etc.

Last week, we began together in Chapter 1, verse 1, and learned that we are reading a letter written by the apostle Peter 2000+ years ago.  We laid a foundation for the entire letter … and so if you weren’t here this past week, I encourage you to check out the message on our website or your favorite Podcasting App.

We said last week that the entire theme of this letter could be wrapped up in just two words … ELECT EXILES.  That we are ELECT; we’re God’s Chosen people … And that we are EXILES; living in a Foreign Land.    It’s an oxymoron.

Peter’s tell them that they are at the same time the most hated and looked down upon people in all the world, and yet the most loved and blessed, because they belong to God.

And so, it’s OK to feel homesick.  In fact, as Christians, we should feel homesick because this world is not our home.  At times, we’re going to experience trials/pain.  At times, we may be stereotyped, marginalized and even persecuted because of our faith.  It’s OK.  This world is not our home; our home is in Heaven.

Peter paints a picture of beauty.  Of hope.  He reminds the readers who they are.  God’s chosen people.

He reminds them what’s been done for them.  That God sent his one and only son to die for them.  To purchase them.  To make them his sons and daughters.

And he reminds them where they are going.  That though, we may have to suffer for a little while, our journey on this earth is a short, and there is a rich inheritance waiting for us beyond anything we can fathom.

We closed last week, with a quote from Victor Frankl: Those who have a “why” to live, can bear with almost any “how”.

Frankl was a Jewish/Austrian/Psychologist, that was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz.  He faced the kind of persecution that, we here tonight, can’t even imagine.  It’s the kind of persecution that the Christians that Peter is writing to were facing.

He wrote about what this experience in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning” …

They stripped me naked. They took everything — my wedding ring, watch. I stood there naked, and all of a sudden realized at that moment that although they could take everything away from me — my wife, my family, my possessions … they could not take away my freedom to choose how I was going to respond. 

While seeking to survive the horror of his own imprisonment, Frankl, as a scientist, began observing his fellow prisoners.  He studied them and took notes.  And what Frankl discovered was …

Some of the nicest people coming in, would became very very brutal and cruel themselves.  Part bitterness.  Part a quest for some sort of power.

Others, who came, they were optimistic and hopeful for a while, then would eventually give in.  “Usually this happened quite suddenly, the symptoms of which were familiar to us experienced camp inmates. We all feared for this moment in our friends. Usually it began one morning when the prisoner simply refused to get dressed, or wash or go out to the parade grounds for inspection. No entreaties, no blows, no threats had any affect. They just lay there. They had given up. Nothing bothered them anymore because they had no hope.”

He said, there were a number of people who would hold out hope.  That everything would return to the way things used to be.  They’d try to be positive.  That if they waited it out, their health, their family, their professional achievements, their fortune, their position in society would be restored to them.  But as it become clear that this would never happen.  Hopelessness would set in.  Many would commit suicide.

Frankl observed that those who truly overcame the concentration camps were those who had a “fixed reference point beyond the world.”  Something they held onto that was out of the grasp of death and destruction.

This is what Peter is teaching in this letter …

That we have a hope, an inheritance in heaven, that can not be touched.  That’s how we persevere in the trials.

That there is a “fixed reference point” … something wonderful and glorious beyond this world.

Peter is teaching that hope is alive, and his name is Jesus … and he’s prepared a place for us, and he does not disappoint.

And when we look at our challenges and struggles through that lens, it gives us strength.  We can have joy.   It changes the why, the how, and the who we live for … and so Peter turns to that now in verse 13 …

(1 Peter 1:13–16 NLT)

13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

That word SO, or as other translations have it THEREFORE, as we’ve talked about in other scriptures, is a transitional phrase.  That based on what I’ve just said … That based on now knowing that this world is not your home, that you have an eternal hope …

There’s a lot to un-pack in these 3 verses, but they are so important, so we’re going to spend most of our time here this evening.

Peter is saying … OK, get ready for action.  Our faith is a forward-looking faith.  Yes, we look back at the Cross.  We look back at our old way of life.  But we’re always looking forward as Christians, living in the present and longing for the future.  So get ready and prepare your minds for action.

The KJV translates this idea literally as it says …

 Gird up the loins of your mind

Which at first glance, probably means absolutely nothing to you … but awkwardness.  Gird up your loins?  We don’t talk like that.  But to the people Peter is writing to, in the 1st Century, this would make perfect sense.

Perhaps you’ve heard of a tunic, or maybe you went to a toga party in college?  I put an image up on the screen there for those who are clueless what I’m talking about.

And so when it was time to get to work, when it was time for action, they’d take their tunics, these long, draping dress-like garments, and they’d tuck them under their belts, so as to free up their legs so they could do the work.  Because everyone knows that there’s nothing more embarrassing than trying to do work, and tripping over your tunic.

Girding up your loins is the 1st century equivalent of saying hey, roll up your sleeves, it’s time to go to work.

Peter is saying … church, this isn’t going to be a walk in the park.  You’re going to need to prepare your minds for action (gird up your loins, roll up your sleeves) and exercise self-control.

Many translations instead of self control say we need to be: sober-minded

What’s a sober-mind?  It’s not a trick question.

It’s the opposite of a drunk-mind.

Have you ever been drunk?  No, not any of you.  Have you spent much time around drunk people? They tend to be out of touch with reality.  They lack self-control.  They make a lot of PLC’s.  (self-fulfilling-prophecy)

Even having one drink, can blur your decision making.

I was sitting on the dock the other night, and I was enjoying a beverage as I watched the sunset.  I felt like I was in a Corona commercial.  I’d found my beach.  Karen was still at the office, so I took a quick selfie to text to her, and let her know I was thinking about her.

Unfortunately, I had also been having a conversation with my lawn guy … who got a most unusual text, with a photo of me, that said “love you sweetie.

Peter is saying, look, you need to be ready.  This isn’t going to be easy.  You need to be in control of your mind.

Put ALL your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.

Don’t put your hope in this world.  Don’t get drunk on this world.  It will blur your vision.  It will cause you to make PLC’s.  It makes you forget where you home is.  It can make you sick, and fog your mind.

Peter goes on …

14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.

 And so it’s not just roll up your sleeves and get ready, but don’t go back to the way you used to be, before you knew Jesus.  Don’t slip back to only living for yourself and your own desires.  You didn’t know any better back then, but now you do.

Don’t go back to thinking it’s OK to spend hours looking at porn.

Don’t go back to racking up credit card debt to fill your closets.

Don’t go back to being a self-centered jerk that uses people and discards them when they are no longer beneficial to you.

Don’t go back to caring what everyone thinks about you.

Don’t forget where home is.  Don’t go back to hopelessness.

You know better now.  Show some self-control.  God has rescued you from that old life of slavery and given you a new life of freedom.  He paid an insurmountable price for your salvation, so he could call you his child, so trust your dad.  Listen to him.  Be obedient.

 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

 Now it’s interesting to me, that this is where Peter goes.  Because remember, we said this is a letter about enduring suffering; to encourage a people who are being persecuted, and even killed for their faith.

And what does Peter say?   “OK, BE HOLY, in everything you do”.

The Roman Emperor Nero was having Christians sown into the skins of wild animals, then hunted down by dogs until they were killed.

And Peter says … OK, so be holy.

If someone comes to me as a pastor, or to my wife Karen as a counselor, and they’re going through some really serious junk …

Hey, I’m struggling.  I’m stressed.  I’m feeling attacked. Found out I have cancer.  I’m starting to doubt my faith.  You know what? You just need to be holy. 

You’d probably punch me in the face.

But that’s where Peter goes … because Peter understands something about holiness that we don’t.

Too often, when we hear people talk about holiness, we just think about rules (bible, pray, church).   Or we think of the pope.  Or of someone acting holier-than-thou.  Those judgmental, self-righteous people.

But if that’s all we think holiness is, we’re missing the beauty of what God is inviting us to.

Peter is still talking about being homesick.  This world is not our home, so don’t act like it is.   As Romans 12 says, we don’t conform to the patterns of this world.  We are set apart, we’re different … we’re HOLY.

We’ve talked about that word HOLY before in regards to the attributes of God. He’s far removed from our understanding.

If there was a chart for wisdom, 1-100, he’s infinitely off the chart.  If there was a scale for love, or goodness, or whatever … God doesn’t rank anywhere on those charts, because he’s infinitely off the charts. There is nobody or anything like our God.

And so when this word is used for us as believers then, it means being “reflecting the character of God” and being “different (set apart) from the world.”

Does that mean we’re just weird?  Perhaps?

I’m not talking about dressing up like a clown and walking around in your neighborhood weird.  I’m talking holy weirdness.

  • It’s weird to fight against sexual lust?
  • It’s weird to give away a substantial portion of your income?
  • It’s weird to forgive our enemies, and do good to those who try to harm them?
  • It’s weird to sacrifice our reputations to love our neighbors, especially those who are also considered weird.
  • It’s weird to hear locker room talk, and say, no, that’s not right.
  • What normal person shows up to a place like this, sing songs to a God we’ve never met, can’t see?
  • What normal person stakes their entire life on the teachings of a Jewish carpenter, turned rabbi who claims to be God?

And if that’s not weird enough … the gospel, this good news that we believe, is just plain foolish.  It’s weird.

Karma.  That makes sense.  You get what you deserve.  You earn it.  You work hard for it.  If you’re good, you’re rewarded.  If you’re bad, you come back to life as a piece of grass.

Karma makes sense.  If you use the last of the toilet paper without replacing it, it makes sense that the next bathroom you go into won’t have any toilet paper.  (true story)

But the gospel of grace, that’s just offensive.  It’s weird.  It’s Karma’s antithesis; because we get the exact opposite of what we deserve.

And so Peter is calling us to by holy … to be different and weird … at least by the worlds standards.

And he’s not talking about preferences weird. If you have 50-cats, that’s weird, but not holy.   If you don’t wear shoes to church … that’s weird based on your preferences.  But that’s not holy.

Don’t confuse the two.

Being holy is thinking, loving and living in a way that is different than the world AND reflects the heart of God. 

  • We love those being marginalized by the world
    • unborn child, orphans, the disabled, homeless
  • We love those being marginalized by the church
    • the gay community, those struggling with addictions, those struggling with mental diseases.
  • We love those trapped in sin, both inside and outside the church. That’s holy.
  • When we see injustices like racism, we don’t just idly by, we’re moved to action. That’s holy.
  • We use words to build people up, not tear them down.
  • We turn the other check, instead of seeking retribution. That’s holy.
  • We aren’t manipulated by political propaganda.
  • We do the right thing, even when no one is watching.  That’s living a holy life.

Or at least that’s how we should be.

But we value conformity.  (video)

We don’t like standing out from the crowds.  We want everyone to like us.  Many of us never move past that middle-school mindset of trying to fit in.  We still want to sit at the cool table.

But Peter is teaching us, that the weird table is so much better!!!

17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.

21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

That’s holiness huh?  Sincere love.  Deep love.  Loving others with all your heart.  Loving others in their mess.

The love of this world is just an emotion.  Just a feeling.  Conditional.  What can you do for me?

But holy love is sacrificial, it takes work, we love no matter the cost.  That’s weird.  That’s holy.

23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the Scriptures say,

    “People are like grass;

      their beauty is like a flower in the field.

    The grass withers and the flower fades.

      25 But the word of the Lord remains forever.” 

And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. 

And that finishes chapter 1 of 1 Peter, and we’ll pick up next time in Chapter 2.   So I’ll close with this …

Why is Peter calling us to live a holy life?  Why is he calling us to be different, to sit at the weird table? 

1 – to serve as a reminder, that this world is not our home.  That we’re just passing through.  When we live holy lives; when we reflect the character of God, we are so separated from the things of this world, that we feel like foreigners.  It’s apparent this is not our home.

That should comfort us. That what will allow us to persevere.

2 –  Is to share that truth/comfort with others.  If the world is bullying you around, come sit with us, at the weird table.

(1 Peter 2:11–12).

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.  (also see Mt 5:16)

If I stood in many churches, and spoke on the declining moral fabric in America, how wicked our culture has become … I’d get a lot of amens and applause.

Many think to change the world; we need to tell the world how they need to be living.  How sinful they are.

But Peter is teaching a different realty, something perhaps a little weird.

To change the world, we need to clean our own house.

Peter isn’t calling out the culture out that’s persecuting the church; he’s calling out the Church.

The Gospel isn’t going to flourish because we demand non-Christians to begin acting like Christians.

It will flourish when Christians start acting like Christians.

When we have so much joy and hope in the midst of our struggles … that people say, “I want some of what you got.  Can I join you at the weird table?”

Get ready.  Prepare your minds.  Be holy.

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