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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:13–25
Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.

Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. For

     “All flesh is like grass
          and all its glory like the flower of grass.
     The grass withers,
          and the flower falls,
     but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

That word is the good news that was announced to you. (NRSV)

“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Frankly, this is an intimidating command. I know far too well how far I fall from holiness. So how exactly can I to live up to this command?

In case it sounds ethereal, in the following chapter, Peter spells out the example of the holiness of Christ to be followed. Applying Christ’s example of suffering to our lives, he writes in 1 Peter 2:20, “If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.” 

Holiness, it seems, is less about what we must do to attain it than what we must endure to become it. There can be no holiness, it seems, without suffering for the sake of what is good. Drawing upon the ancient art of metallurgy, writers of the Bible and other texts in the ancient world compared holiness to precious metals—gold and silver—gleaming and glistening only after enduring the heat of fire. Like metals put through fire, our character must be tried and tested. Only then might we become holy.

Lord, make us more holy. Not by what we do, but by what we endure, make us more holy. Amen.

Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life

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