SCRIPTURE: 1 Peter 2:9-12
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Live as Servants of God
11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.
The Asbury Bible Commentary offers the following when looking at verses eleven and twelve of this selection:
Two guiding principles must govern the conduct of God’s people. Negatively, they must abstain from sinful desires. These desires are characteristic of the pagan society from which they have been redeemed and to which they must no longer conform (1:14, 18). Since such desires would involve a rejection of redeeming grace (and militate against their souls), Christians must reject them.
Positively, however, there can be no withdrawal from the world. Rather, Peter calls his readers to maintain good conduct as they interact with non-Christians. Significantly, Peter calls them to do good and to demonstrate Christian grace to those who abuse them. In so doing, at least some non-Christians eventually will be able to glorify God on the final day.
In the sections that follow (2:13-4:11), Peter addresses several situations faced by his readers. In each of them he applies these general principles as he urges his readers to act as God’s people.
These two guiding principles can come into conflict for many Christians. There is often debate on whether certain actions or beliefs about our world are sinful or if they offer a way to stage engaged in the world. Changes in our world have been at the center of this conflict for centuries (or longer). But what I think is most important is how we look at these two principles. I believe the first is a reminder of trying to live lives like Jesus lead, and therefore being an example of God’s love to the world. I also believe that to be able to do that well, we need to follow the second principle and be in the world – the body of Christ for the world.
Where in your life have these two principles come into conflict for you? How have you reconciled those conflicts? Is one principle more important to you? Or easier for you to follow?
Grace-filled and merciful God, your Son sent his disciples into the world to share the Good News and make disciples of every nation. They had to not only resist the sinful desires of the physical world but continue to stay engaged with it to connect with people and glorify God. Help us in our world today to embrace both of these realities, while showing God’s love to the world and sharing the Good News. Amen.