Know Who You Are
In today’s text, 1 Peter 2:9-17, Peter describes believers as God’s people who possess tremendous privileges. The first two verses in today’s text tell us our identity as Christian believers. He said in verses 9-10, “But you are a chosen race (Israelites in the Old Testament or Church in the New Testament), a royal priesthood (God has called each Christian as a mediator between God and the people = Priesthood of all believers), a holy nation (citizens set apart for the service to God), God’s own people (It means a people belong to God). Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:20, “For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” Isaiah 43:1 says, “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” God has made us, redeemed us, and called us by our name. That is why we are his! We are God’s possession. As a matter of fact, we are not just one of God’s possessions but we are his children! The Apostle John said in 1 Letter of John 3:1, “See what love the Father has given us that we should be called the children of God; and that is what we are.”
Why did God do all these things? Peter says, “in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” God chose the nation of Israel to accomplish this mission, but they failed it. So God chose the spiritual Israel (Christians or descendant of Abraham by faith) to proclaim the good news to the rest of the world). Let us think about whether we are doing our best to fulfill this mission. Are we sharing our faith with other people? Are we inviting others to our church’ event? Talk about Insert for Christmas Events. I encourage you to use this invitation card to invite your neighbor and friends to our church programs. I encourage you to volunteer for these events. I want you to come to these events and also to pray for all those who are involved in preparation.
Before and After
The Apostle Peter says in verse 10, “Once you were not a people (useful to God), but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Do you see the huge difference before and after you meet Jesus?
Not God’s People vs. God’s people; No Mercy vs. Mercy
Let us think about the life we used to live before we become Christians. I don’t know about you, but God has changed me and is still changing me since I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was 21 years old. Attending a church regularly, giving offering and tithe, serving others, learning and teaching God’s Words, and sharing my faith with other people with words and actions. I never did these things before I met Jesus personally. But I do these things constantly and wholeheartedly! How about you? Can you think about the difference in your own life? Has God transformed your heart and lifestyle since you become a Christian? Peter said in verse 10, “Once you were not a people (people who are useful to God), but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Peter says in verse 11, “Live as Servants of God. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul.” Paul mentioned his inner conflict in Romans 7. Although he wanted to do the things that please God, he keeps doing the things that are opposite. He confessed that it was because the sin dwells within him. Paul also talked about this in the book of Galatians 5, “A person’s desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other . . .”
How are you doing on this? Are you winning this internal battle most of the time? If we want to live our lives as servants of God, we must do our best to win these daily internal battles. That’s why Peter said, “I urge you . . . to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul.”
In Las Vegas, 58 people were killed and more than 500 people were injured. Many people don’t understand what would be in a person’s heart to spray bullets into a crowd to kill and wound as many as he can. Or what’s in the heart of a person who drives his car into a crowd of people, gets out of his car and begin to stabs innocent people and police officers. Rev. Franklin Graham said, “The common thread that runs through the heart of each of these is evil. King Solomon said in the Book of Proverbs 4:13, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” If we fail to guard our hearts, we will lose the internal battle. If we lose internal battle, we will follow the sinful desire of our hearts. But it is possible for us to tend and guard our hearts and live our lives as the servants of God for His glory!
Let Your Light Shine Among the Gentiles
Peter said in verse 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.” Jesus said in Matthew 5, “You are the light of the world . . . Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” How are we doing this? Are we demonstrating God’s love to the people around us including those who are least, lost, and marginalized in our society? How about the people who used to attend a church, but not anymore? Do we have compassion for them? Are we inviting them or criticize them because they don’t believe what we believe? Jesus and Peter tell us to continue to invite them, share the gospel, and be nice to them so that they can glorify God. The Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:2, “proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable . . .” This is not an option, but a command from God for every Christian believer.
Obey the Authority in our Society
“For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. As servants of God, live as free people; yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
Paying tax, obey the all kinds of law in the society for the Lord’s sake. When Peter was writing this letter, the secular people accused the Christians. They were saying that Christians were not obeying the government because of their faith. What if the government law is against the teachings in the Bible? What should we do? For me, I will obey God’s law in the Bible since I can entrust my well being and the future into the hand of God rather than the leaders in the government. Trust me! I am a pretty good citizen in this country. I pay tax every year and obey the traffic law . . . etc. I will share one of the examples in the Bible.
Two Midwives saved the Hebrews boys since they had fear of God. They did not obey Pharaoh the King of Egypt. So God blessed these midwives.
God has given us “free will.” It doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want. Depend on our lifestyle; God can give us either reward or punishment. We will reap whatever we sow. That is the law of the nature and God’s law. It is God’s will that we intentionally choose to do the right thing each moment by honoring every person, loving fellow Christian believers, demonstrating reverent fear toward God and by respecting the authority of the president. I understand it may not so easy for many of you to demonstrate this kind of respect to the leaders of our government. But it is right thing to do so, according to Peter who had spent lots of time with Jesus during his earthly ministry. Unless their laws are contradicting to God’s Words, we should obey them for the Lord’s sake. Peter said, “For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish.”