1 Peter 2:9-17
But you are a special people, a holy nation, priests and kings, a people given up completely to God, so that you may make clear the virtues of him who took you out of the dark into the light of heaven. In the past you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; then there was no mercy for you, but now mercy has been given to you. My loved ones, I make this request with all my heart, that, as those for whom this world is a strange country, you will keep yourselves from the desires of the flesh which make war against the soul; Being of good behaviour among the Gentiles; so that though they say now that you are evil- doers, they may see your good works and give glory to God when he comes to be their judge. Keep all the laws of men because of the Lord; those of the king, who is over all, And those of the rulers who are sent by him for the punishment of evil- doers and for the praise of those who do well. Because it is God’s pleasure that foolish and narrow- minded men may be put to shame by your good behaviour: As those who are free, not using your free position as a cover for wrongdoing, but living as the servants of God; Have respect for all, loving the brothers, fearing God, honouring the king.
Christians are not to be friends with the world. Ouch.
But it’s so much more than that. The heart of the issue is about being God’s people. And to the world, when we live as God’s people, under His authority, we are strangers. Heaven is our home. Not Earth.
Living as God’s people is not confined to the denomination or non-denomination we participate in, the right style of communion, expectations of attire, availability of intellectual teaching and technologies available for the presentation of the weekly service. The 6/7ths of the week where we aren’t in the Church building scream volumes more to the World than the 1/7th of our lives we meet on a Sunday.
Living as God’s people means we have been adopted into God’s family where He is King and the final authority.
Living as God’s people means that fellowship is perpetual, and not confined to a time and place each week. Getting together and praying, praising and reading God’s word as friends, families, couples, workers is satisfying and sought after because it edifies our souls and sanctifies us.
Living as God’s people means that we no longer look at God through the worlds glasses, but we now look at the world through God’s glasses He’s given us – His Word.
Where the World sees a bang, we see an almighty Creator God.
Only last week, a Christian missionary spoke at a secular press conference on his miracle healing from Ebola. Reporters noted his response and recount as ‘Bizarre’, why? Because the world saw a disease and a trial cure, and clever Dr’s, but we see a Perfect Physician and author, and disperser of gifts and abilities and…..miracles.
Aren’t we supposed to befriend the world, and draw them to God?
In my earlier Christian years, I battled with this a lot. I wrestled with the balance and boundaries of how far do you go to reach someone for Christ? I pushed the whole ‘in the world, not of the world’ points and that I could be in the world as long as I didn’t conform to the ways of the world (Romans 12:2 – And let not your behaviour be like that of this world, but be changed and made new in mind, so that by experience you may have knowledge of the good and pleasing and complete purpose of God.) and truth be told I found my self in many a situation that I would never like to be found in again!
I found many times that I adjusted my standards, boundaries and behaviours to those
of the world around me, thinking so foolishly that that’s what was needed to draw them to Christ – relevance.
It’s only been in recent years that I have become more and more convinced that Christ dying on the cross IS relevant to everyone. That Christ being raised from the dead IS relevant.
God doesn’t need my help to make Him relevant because HE IS the Great I AM.
“Stop fooling yourselves. If you think you are wise by this worlds standards, you will have to become a fool so you can become wise by God’s standards.” 1 Corinthians 3:18
We no longer live by the earthly wisdom that is prevalent in our society, we now submit to God’s wisdom, God’s standards.
Being baptised – by Holy Spirit and Water – signifies that we have died to self, and now live to Christ. We are sons and daughters of the Most High, and heirs with Christ. We are different.
This foundation for life – Jesus – automatically makes us different people to the world, because we belong to a different family, we are heirs with Christ,and the scripture above says that we will not only be considered different, but fools!
The question isn’t necessarily, “How different are you to the world?” But, to see growth and change we must ask from a repentant heart, “What can I do to live as one of God’s people, in His family?”
The fruits of the Spirit are unique to the Christian, living in the Spirit – no one else can grow those fruits in their lives if they are apart from Christ. People can try and imitate the fruits, some will even create counterfeits, but the real fruits can only be produced by the Spirit, conceived in a repentant and believing heart.
Similar to how these flowers have changed (we sat them in coloured water and watched as they changed colour over a couple of days!) I pray that as you take in God’s Word and live in the power of the Holy Spirit and abide in Him, the one who created you, that you may notice Holiness and change in your life, as you journey to your Heavenly home.