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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

05-05-24 -BUT YOU ARE - 1 Peter 1:1-22 - 2:1-12



Let's pray: Dear Father God hear our prayers, for brothers and sisters, family and friends and many others all over the world, who are struggling with their health with pain, discomfort and doubts about you are real and can hear our cry. You know them by name; Gaby, Tere, Nancy, Steve, Socrates, Les, Miguel, Katherine, and Carlos, we ask humbly to restore their faith and make them strong in it. Your word says that if we ask with faith and believe anything from you, you will answer with blessings. We pray to you Father God in the name of your beloved son Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN!

Have you ever felt that you have little to offer, little to give that would make much difference?  Your contributions so small.  Your gifts far lesser than ‘theirs’.  Your strengths measured in milligrams rather than grams.  

Well welcome to those to whom Peter is writing.  Those, who we’ve seen in past weeks, have lost so much of what has defined them. And now where they are, having every reason to believe themselves as the nameless, the faceless, the unseen.  

It’s not hard to find yourself in a place like this, when the legs have been pulled out from under you. And yes, sometimes when you’ve pulled them out yourself, by your actions, your mistakes.   

Well, there’s hope.  Hope because while the voices you are now listening to, may be loud and may be convincing, they are wrong.  

God speaking into the lies you’ve been believing, into the lies that hold you down that, ‘you’ve never been unseen, never been unknown, never been unnamed’This is what the LORD who created you says, ... I formed you ... I saved you. I have called you by name ... you are mine   Is 43:1 and in case we missed it, Jesus as the Good Shepherd, He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out Jn 10:3.   Which is to say, if you have your faith in Jesus to forgive your sins, you are His sheep, His child.  

One who God Almighty has called by name.  His calling not some large ‘cattle call’ with you just one of the many caught up in the herd.   Nope. 

You, not just named but fully known.  Psalm 139 unpacks that as well as anywhere in Scripture, you’ve been: uniquely formed, your thoughts known, your paths known.  Even the hairs of your head numbered Matt 10:30. Known and sacrificially loved, I lay down my life for the sheep. Jn 10:14,15.

Chosen, named, cared for, loved.  As 2:9,10 states, You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  

This is where Peter has been taking us.  He’s begun by spending significant time, rooting them positionally and spiritually into who they are and then putting before them, three commands by which they are to live, 1st to set their hope fully on the revelation of Jesus :13 – which is to say being Jesus focused people in everything.  Jesus focused in the center of our worship.  Jesus focused, the center of our hope.  And Jesus focused, the center of what is true.  But this command also tells us that we are to be prophesy-focused - waiting on the revelation of Jesus.  People who live in anticipation of our coming King.  

The 2nd command is that we are to be people who are to be holy in all our behaviour :15.  That is to say, not perfectly righteous but perfectly focused, so our actions are lived to please God. Which brings us to his 3rd command, conduct yourselves with fear during the time of your stay on earth :17.  In other words, don’t lose sight of the One for Whom we are to live.  In short these  commands are first and foremost, an upward look, an inward look and finally, an outward look, how we are to relate to others.  

The motivation for each of these commands is that we have been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ.  So with that as reminder, this morning we are looking at a 4th command, that we are to, Love one another fervently from a pure heart :22   This command is repeated twice: your souls were purified by obedience for a sincere brotherly love… therefore, love one another fervently from a pure heart.”

So what does this sincere love look like?  

The 1st observation Peter makes about sincere love is what IS to be seen beginning in our attitude then showing in our actions.  Paul tells us it is, preferring one another in love Rom 12:10.  But elsewhere, he unpacks this further with a series of ‘one another’s’: Serving one another Ga 5:13; Forgiving one another Eph 4:32, Col 3:13; Seeking good for one another 1 Thess 5:15; Being devoted to one another, Giving preference to one another, Outdoing one another in showing honor Rom 12:10; Encouraging and Building up one another 1 Thess 5:11. 

And if those standards weren’t setting the bar high enough, Paul goes a step further: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant  Phil 2:5-7 

The point? this life Jesus that calls us to isn’t simply measured in some words said or some emotion felt, it’s measured in viewing life from a totally new place as we lay claim to who Jesus says we are and then living out of that place.  Living like this is both a change of orientation and a change of ownership - the Holy Spirit enabling us to live from the inside out.

Practically, it is letting go of our pre-occupation to be the center of our life and giving God that place.  Our life yielded to Him.  Because the truth is, we can’t live the one another life God speaks of, without His power allowing our focus to be on others not ourselves. 

Imagine how that would look like IF these ‘one another’ attitudes were on regular display in the church?  Just think how radically different this would be alongside the ‘me-centered’ world in which we live?  Not, what’s in this for ‘me’ but centered on others.  Not parroting empty words to get things that will benefit me but having a truly committed heart that takes joy in the privilege to lift others up. Encouraging one another. Genuinely loving one another.  Without critique.  Where ‘put downs’ aren’t present.  Where complaint isn’t heard.  Where wrong judgments aren’t rushed to. Where gossip isn’t spread.  People who seek the best for others.

Possible?  Seems hard to believe but God’s word telling us this IS how we are to live as we step out in fervent love.  Jesus’ first calling us to BE before we DO. Just think how different our relationships would be IF a ‘one another’ perspective were to characterize how we act with those closest to us?  Think of how our marriages would be different, our relationships between siblings would be different.  Where we choose to ‘encourage and build up one another, outdoing one another in showing honor’.  This call to sincerely love is a command to act in ways that are actively and aggressively fleshed out.

Actions seen in encouragements spoken not privately felt. You’ve heard the adage, ‘I told you I love you 30 years ago and if anything changes I’ll let you know’.  Sadly, that approach is often how these ‘one another’ injunctions play out in our churches.  The problem is, love doesn’t grow and culture isn’t changed in the ways Peter is talking of in an attitude of monasterial silence.  This to say, sincere love MUST be seen by what we DO.  Sometimes done in ways considered small and of no account. Like a word said, an email written, a phone message left.

Of no account - like the invention of a small metal and leather strap giving horse riders a greater measure of stability as they rode.  No big thing, just a stirrup – a small thing yet one that decided one of the most decisive battles in the history of the world.  In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy invaded England to face a much superior army but while the English rode to the battlefield on horseback, they fought on foot, not trusting the stability of ridership. But the Norman calvary sitting securely in their stirrups decimating the enemy. 

Or small - like a kite flown across the Niagara river’s expanse before landing on the other side. Yet its string became the connecting piece between the two shores that would eventually allow a greater cable to be drawn across the expanse, to enable a suspension bridge to be built.

Just the ‘of no account and small’ of some string and a stirrup, but accomplishing the mighty.  Just as God calls us to see and step out and do what we consider, the small and of no account

Notice Peter says, Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a SINCERE LOVE of the brothers and sisters, fervently love one another from the heart.  :22   

Sincere - without wax.  The reference speaking to where a potter would cover over cracks and imperfections with cosmetic makeovers, filling marred places with wax. The artistry of this coverup undetected until the pottery was held high, exposed to the sunlight. Then the invisible was exposed. It’s why the craftsman’s signature would be written, Sincerely yours.  Peter saying live your lives held up to God’s light.  Transparently.  Undisguised.  Love in such a way, that your actions and attitudes are held up to His light.  You’re words and actions in obedience to the TRUTH :22, not acting out of self-gain and hypocrisy.  If Peter were writing today, he would likely say, not with Tik Tok, X, Instagram images that convey a life far different than what truly is.  

Don’t miss what Peter is saying here that loving sincerity is to characterize our relationships with other Christians.  United in our shared belief in the essentials. 

We aren’t to be relationally and attitudinally divided over theology and practice that is legitimately and Biblically held, yet with different interpretative and supportable views – for example, the operation of spiritual gifts.  Don’t divide over the ways we worship, the contemplative versus the celebrative OR separated over positions we hold – pre-trib, post trib.  Instead BE UNITED in our shared love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Does this mean abandoning our understanding of what Scripture teaches or jettisoning discernment and remaining silent about things that are wrong?  Definitely not but it does speak to our hearts regarding how we respond to those with whom we differ. Jesus making if crystal clear, By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another Jn 13:35 

As :23 reminds, we are BORN AGAIN people who are to be constantly transformed by, the living and abiding word of God.  So – start living in accordance with who you are.

And it’s with this in mind and the divide between what is seen and what should be seen is what moves Peter from gentle to strong, with the 2nd observation he makes about sincere love - the things that are NOT to be seen, Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and slander, like newborn babies long for the pure milk of the word that by it you may grow in respect to salvation. :1.

Which is to say not hanging onto offense that lingers and distorts.  Where we gather up wrongs.  Where actions and attitudes take root to injure and destroy.  Where orientation centers on ‘me’.  Things that arise when we stop seeing the other as we have been told to do.

It’s apparent Peter writes as he does because what he is witnessing is a far cry from what should be seen.  Don’t miss how Peter describes what he sees – malice, guile, hypocrisy envy, slander.  

Let’s unpack these a bit: Therefore, putting aside ALL malice desire to injure, depravity and deceit  ‘baiting a hook’ and hypocrisy ‘play acting, wearing a mask, playing the role’ and envy and slander defaming, tearing down.  And Peter’s clear command, it ALL needs to go.  Every trace of it.  Put these things aside or take them off like removing and ‘deep sixing’ badly smelling, badly soiled garments.

His point? what you are wearing should not even be seen among you.  How is it possible, that these attitudes and behaviours are even seen among BORN AGAIN people?   And to drive his point home, he is in essence saying, you are living as you once were, forgetting who you are.  

And as reminder Who You Are - bringing them back to reminders – CHOSEN – meaning: you are known, you are loved, you are valued, you are wanted.  Despite the things you might have told yourself or heard from others, uniquely chosen by God.  You are also ROYAL – a child of the King.  But no ordinary King.  This King who has no equal.  Which is to say, because of this King, you are no ordinary child.  You are a PRIEST – this position placed on you by matter of your birth.  It wasn’t awarded in recognition of what was seen.  Not awarded due to a life well lived.  Yours by lineage.  You are HOLY – given not earned.  Made holy by the new that’s been put on, the new that’s been put in.  

All these things God’s declaration of the identity He has placed on you, so live aligned with who you are.  Live with awareness of when we first received new life.  When our very existence was based on receiving His new life.  It was life we learned of and rejoiced in as we drank in the life-giving milk of the Word.  When God’s truth fed you, nourished you, changed you.  When you couldn’t get enough.  Its impact so real.  The change in you, so great.  Your belief so strong.

The great news - no one can out-sin God’s grace.  That what He did then, He still does now.  Forgiving and allowing us to start new.  At the moment of our salvation, we were declared righteous because of the imputed, the placed on us, righteousness of Christ Rom 4:3-5.  And it’s in and from this place that He again calls us to live as recipient of God’s amazing grace to the praise of God’s glory.  Living not just for now but for ‘then’. 

And it’s the ‘then’ that Peter next takes us to in 1 Pet 2:2-10 as he gives us a larger picture of what God is doing, that He is preparing His Kingdom and in that kingdom, we are called and positioned to be His ‘living stones’ in what He is building.  That we are positioned by God to be people who show His Glory.  Each stone different and each stone cut and shaped by God to serve the purpose He needs it to be.  The exact way He shapes us to be used in a way only you can do.  A people in the workplace, in the school, in the community who will be attractive and compelling demonstrations of who Jesus wants to be in the lives of people you know.  You and I, people who bear the marks of Jesus.  A people as you’ve heard it said, who may be the only Jesus those around us will ever see.  Stones of different shapes. Different strengths but all  used in the Kingdom He is preparing.

Understand, God’s design is to use us as His people in the here and now as He also shapes us for His kingdom.  That Kingdom begins and ends with Jesus.  In 1 Pet 2:4, Peter describes Jesus as, a ‘living stone’, chosen and precious in God’s sight.  He is our living stone who has pushed aside the stone that declared Him dead, and who is actively speaking life to a world that desperately needs the boulders and stones that keep them from seeing God, to be pushed away so they can know resurrection.

In verse 2:7, Peter makes it abundantly clear, Jesus is the Cornerstone of everything God intends BUT how that impacts us – where we fit and IF we fit - depends completely on what we do with Jesus.  Everything about what God is doing centers on Him.

That means, Jesus is not simply a, ‘take it or leave it’ proposition; ‘good for you, not so much for me’.  Because the Bible is abundantly clear, the question of ‘Who Jesus is?’ demands an answer.  

Who is Jesus? is also the question God is putting before you this morning.  Throughout Scripture Jesus uses various types to make Himself known.  He is the Shepherd, the King, the Servant, the Physician but here in Peter, a more unusual title is given – He is the stone – a living stone.  

First and foremost, He is God’s:  

Smitten stone – God’s Son, the ONE God allowed to be struck as His only sacrifice for sin – beaten, spat upon and disfigured but whose stripes would bring life to everyone who believed.  The Jews hearing this term, smitten stone, would understand that this was a reference to when Moses struck a stone in the desert and from it God brought forth water so people could live.  God providing Living water to all who would drink.  Living water to the lost, and the thirsty. 1 Cor 10:4 

To those who believe, He is God’s Cornerstone – the foundation upon Whom our lives can be built.  Upon whom our faith stands.  Upon whom our future is assured  1 Pet 2:7.   

To the Jews – He was the Stumbling stone – the ONE from Whom they would turn their backs.  He not coming as they had wanted.  He not doing what they demanded Him to do.  His appearance without sceptre and throne.  Without power and glory.  Without trumpets and triumph.   And because He did not meet what their pride and expectations demanded, they stumbled, held captive as they hung onto religious ritual and self-righteous routine.  1 Pet 2:8.

To the world at His 2nd Coming, He will be fully revealed as God’s Capstone, God’s word of completion – before Whom all will bow.  Some in great adoration and praise and others in recognition yet despair as the One they rejected.  Jesus, God’s Capstone, His signature piece that showcased everything He has been preparing since the beginning of time.  His signature piece sent to heal and redeem a lost and broken world.   

This One for Whom we are to live.  His reminder – remember Who You Are so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. 

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