DAILY DEVOTION - MAY 19
Listen to excerpts from today's daily devotion on this video.
This Daily Devotion is from A Living Hope, by Sarah Viggiano Wright, published by Bible Study Media, and made available to us through Presbyterian Women.
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
1 Peter 2:11–12
We tend to share things that are too good to keep to ourselves. Social media lends itself to this yearning. People share incredible dance videos and crazy cat memes that go viral, getting millions of viewers in a day. Sometimes there are videos of kindness and inspiration that spread like wildfire. And there is a rightness to that kind of spreading. That’s how it should be—goodness is meant to be shared, to be proclaimed.
Before we encountered God, we were in deep darkness, despair, and depravity. Our vices were kept in secret; we were alone in our struggles. The Enemy wanted to keep us isolated in our sin. We were all once children of darkness (see Ephesians 5:7–10).
But, in Christ our identities were forever changed! Jesus entered into our messes, aiding us in our addictions, bandaging our wounds, and subduing our egotistical prides. We who once cowered in darkness now bask in “his marvelous light!” (1 Peter 2:9). We who were unclaimed are now treasured. We who were unholy now have priestly work to do. This is good news, and we mustn’t keep it to ourselves. Because we have received mercy, we are to proclaim God’s mighty acts and excellencies in our thoughts, words, and deeds. We praise and proclaim God’s goodness back to God (which we call worship). We repeat it to ourselves, and we retell it to fellow Christians.
But that’s not enough. This marvelous message is not meant to stay within the holy huddle. We are to go out and share it with our family, friends (and enemies), neighbors, and the world. We go out in compassion and share with a world that needs everlasting good news.
This task is challenging because many people have been wounded by Christians (or a church) and now want nothing to do with Christianity or Jesus. Some may view Christians as close-minded or bigoted. Others may object to the exclusive nature of Christianity or think God is unkind or unfair. Perhaps someone you’ll encounter has been deeply wounded by a person who professed Jesus but whose actions were in direct contradiction to his mission of goodness.
About those objecting to Christianity, mathematician and Christian convert Blaise Pascal said, “Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.”
Making Jesus “attractive” means that our actions are to affirm and confirm the attractiveness of Jesus in practical, meaningful ways. Thus, our conduct is to be so honorable that wounded skeptics are silenced in their criticism and even come to a saving knowledge of God through the goodness we proclaim. We must “preach the gospel”—and both actions and words are necessary.
Another challenge we have as followers of Jesus is not fully separating ourselves from the world but also not fully synchronizing with the world. Instead, we are to sojourn in the world, pulling away from emulating our culture when it leans against God, and leaning into the aspects of society in which God’s goodness is apparent. We live here, but we are not full citizens of this world.
Peter wants this exilic reality to be understood and even embraced—this side of heaven—because the less you focus on making this world your home the more you can focus on this world being your mission. We are better able to live out our missional, sojourning identity and our holy priesthood when we know this world is not our ultimate destiny.
So, we as Christians need to be aware of these challenges. We have to keep our conduct honorable. No longer can we gratify our previous, fleshly desires that take worship away from God, isolating us, and ultimately create a lower-level of satisfaction and joy in our lives.
We have to remember that we are sojourners and exiles in this world because our citizenship is elsewhere. We’re not supposed to be completely comfortable here. Life is not supposed to be without challenge, let alone “Pinterest-worthy” or “magically delicious.”
We are to be separate and abstain from worldly pleasures, but we are to be present in meeting the world’s needs. We are to show those who are resistant to Christianity that their neediness can be met with love and redemption in Jesus.
We who are increasingly aware of the depths of our sin and the woeful unrighteousness of our hearts before God, we who have received mercy nonetheless—we should be the ones most appreciative of Jesus and most unrestrained in our praise. We ought to respond to his mercy with merciful lives ourselves, lives of love toward others that are a perpetual “Thank You” to our great God.
There is no doubt in Peter’s mind that such honorable conduct will be contagious!