‘Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16
As you’ve probably heard, if you read the word “therefore” you should probably look at what precedes it so you can see what it’s there for.
Before verse 13 Peter breaks down the weightiness of this salvation we have received as Christians. I’ve grown tired of the phrases, “born again” and “saved”. They come with the connotation of a superficial Christiandom that says it’s #blessed and has no sobriety about what it means to be saved or born again. But Peter gets to the down and dirty of what it means to be born again and saved in a way our western evangelical selves have gotten all sterilized and plastic.
Maybe I’m cynical. Maybe it’s because I live with an unbeliever, but for me, all the Christianization of things is nauseating. If Jesus isn’t real, if he doesn’t change the way I think and give me a whole new outlook on life and new desires and affections… if he doesn’t really turn my world upside down then he’s a hoax and I’m a liar. But if I’m really born again I’ll find a whole new kind of life growing in me. And if I’m really saved, that will mean something that’s very sobering. I mean, if “saved” just means put the Christian cherry on top of my devil’s food life then fooey! That’s not saved, that’s sugar-coated. Peter doesn’t say in verses 3-12 that we’ve been sugar-coated. Jesus had things to say about people that said they were saved and evangelized others to make them “saved” when they were really rotten dead walking around in white washed tombs making walking dead in nice suites out of their converts.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 23:15
Peter, the one who knows what it feels like to betray Jesus, fall under the weight of that shame and guilt and experience restoration with Jesus, talks about being born again as a radical, life changing experience Jesus does in us. Being born again we love a Savior we have never seen, even while we suffer (vs.6-8). Our affections have been radically changed. It’s like we’ve been born all over again.
And our salvation is just that… a new birth that will grow up (by God’s tremendous grace and mercy) till the day when Christ perfects us at his coming.
Salvation isn’t a ticket out of hell. It’s death to our old self, daily. And new life growing in us, daily.
This is what verse thirteen’s “therefore” is there for. I just see Peter full of expression and passion looking at us with wide eyes after showing us the scandalous wealth we’ve been given in being born anew as God’s own children, saved from the destruction our sin-rotting selves were destined for, and say, “Put your big boy and big girl pants on cause it’s war now! You’ve been utterly changed, and now for the rest of your life here you need a sober perspective. You need to stop putting your hope in people, status, wealth, achievement, health… even this life and you need to fix your eyes on that promises that you’re gonna see Jesus. And when you see him, you’re gonna be made like him. And the war will be over!”
I was born in 1974 to Bob and Verna Deane. In 1990 I was born again to God. And now as His child, I don’t go the way of Bob and Verna and all that my firstborn self had set her hopes on. All those passions I had were due to ignorance. I had no idea how good God was and so I put all my hope in things and people that are not good. As God’s child I am set apart from all that. I don’t live from a place of poverty hoping that some broken person or lying status or temporary wealth will make me satisfied and secure. I live from a place of abundance with confidence in the One who laid down his life for me and took my old passions and all the deadly fruit they bore with him to the cross.
I am holy. Because my Father is holy. And by his grace he is bearing the fruit of his holiness even in me. That’s beyond amazing.
A new series
I’ll be posting a historical-fiction short story this Friday. This first installment of Fiction Friday comes from a piece I submitted to a writing contest. It didn’t win, but it got me thinking I should try to write some fictional pieces more often. I really enjoyed it. Anyway, I’d love it if you joined, and if you’re so inclined to write a short 1500 words or less fictional short story and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love post your piece on one of my Fiction Friday posts.