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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Today’s 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)

How does one live as a Christ follower in a culture that oscillates between indifference, derision, and outright hostility? The letter of 1 Peter, believed to have been written in the late stages of the first century, wrestles with that very question. The threat of persecution from Rome was palpable, even if it was not yet overt, and the author looks to speak to recent Christian converts who are facing this uncertainty.

“Prepare your minds for action,” the author exhorts, “Be holy yourselves in all your conduct.” Rather than give in to fear of one’s neighbors, Christians are asked to live out of reverent fear—seeking to be holy (literally “set apart”) and born anew as God’s people, held to a standard of mutual love that exceeded all expectation. By holding ourselves to this aspirational standard of love we can rightly claim to follow in Christ’s footsteps, no matter what the prevailing culture tries to impress upon us.

American Christianity may not wrestle with persecution in the same way as the audience of 1 Peter did (although there are certainly plenty of places in the world today that still do), but the idea of living according to an aspirational standard of love is vital no matter one’s context. We preach the good news at all times, using words only when necessary but always though our conduct with others—and in doing so we indeed know that our faith and hope are set on God.

Holy God, continue to challenge me so that my life better reflects your holiness—set apart through aspirational love according to your Word. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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