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God is with you - Part 7

1 Peter 1v17b-19

Strangers

28th April 2017

The last time we studied 1 Peter, we looked at the first half of this verse:

1 Peter 1v17
Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

Now let's look at the second half.

Peter call us "strangers" because, although we're in the world, we're not of the world (John 15v9) and God tells us to separate from the world and be holy (2 Corinthians 6v17) not by going off and living in a monastery somewhere, unless you're one of the few whom God has called to that life, but by living differently from those around you, not taking on the values of the people around you.

The more TV I watch, the less I want to watch, because the values of the world pour out of that screen, don't they?

Don't think the way the world thinks. Don't want what the world wants. Don't adopt the envy and the bitterness and the unforgiveness and the anger and the confrontation.

Everybody with a political opinion these days seems to hate everybody who has a different opinion. Don't be like that. Don't hate anybody. Jesus said "Love your enemies", "Pray for your enemies", "If anybody asks for your coat give them your shirt as well", "If someone makes you walk a mile with them, go two". Don't think as the world thinks. Don't be constantly angry about how much people take, be someone who want to give. Don't be out for what you can get, be out for the glory of God. Don't fight your neighbour, love your neighbour.

Our belief system, our thought processes, are utterly different from those of the people around us. Don't be suckered into thinking or acting they way they think and act. You're called to be holy.

And live in reverent fear. Somebody asked me recently, "Do you think we've lost the reverence?" and it made me think. Are we so keen to be welcoming and friendly and non-judgemental, that we've gone too far the other way, and haven't treated God with the honour and respect He deserves? But I think those two ideas are not in competition. We can be absolutely loving and hospitable, and we can give God the respect He deserves. And this world is crying out for a church like that - a church that are glad that all the people who came are there, but who also want to take of our shoes because this is holy ground, who have that sense that were are in the presence of the holy God. Treating God with reverence doesn't mean being boring and unfriendly. It means loving both God and your neighbour. There is no choice between these - it should be both.

1 Peter 1v18-19
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 forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

The culture in which Peter's readers lived thought slavery was normal. If you had serious amounts of money, you would probably have owned slaves, and a huge number of Christians at that time were slaves. Peter's readers were familiar with the idea of the slave price. If you wanted to sell your slave, you could take him to the market place and hang a price round his neck, and someone could bid for him. They were also familiar with the idea that a well-meaning person could choose to buy a slave out of slavery and give him his freedom. They would do this with silver or gold.

Some of the people who read the original of this letter may have been slaves, but some benefactor, perhaps a member of their church, had given their owner silver or gold, to pay to set them free. What a celebration! What a great party the church would have had that night! "Our brother was a slave but now he's free. He can earn his own living and make his own decisions. Hallelujah! Wonderful!" But that's nothing compared to what's happened to you and me.

We were slaves to sin and darkness, to not understanding the truth about God and mankind, about right and wrong, and eternal life. We were slaves to ignorance, fear, death and sin. And Christ has paid the slave price so you and I can be free. That is so much more wonderful.

A slave set free in that part of Asia 2,000 years ago would have a few years, still poor but at least not beaten by his slave driver, at least free to make his own mistakes. You and I have been set free from sin and death for all eternity. And the price wasn't silver and gold - it was the blood of the Son of God, that paid for your sin to set you free from slavery to death and fear.

And Peter is saying that if we understand how much it cost Jesus to set us free, then we will want to treat God with reverence. Let us never forget what He has done for us.