Peter seems intent on making us talk about unpleasant subjects, things like obeying the law, submitting to each other, and suffering. He also has negative things to say about things we’d rather be doing, like partying, chasing the Benjamins and generally living large.
The event that nobody will be able to avoid talking about this week is the death of Osama bin Laden, so we will talk about it too. Brendan Greeley of Businessweek gives an interesting take on why bin Laden lost. In summary he suggests that bin Laden’s death, while an important victory, was not bin Laden’s defeat, that he had already lost wide support in the Islamic world because he had no answer to the daily problems of life encountered by Islamic people.
He says that bin Laden was beaten by the fact that the United States has no agenda while bin Laden’s agenda was an emphatic, nihilistic No. According to Greely:
The United States was not founded for the greater glory of anything, or as the necessary outcome of history, but for the freedom to collect figurines, to join a clogging troupe, to take a road trip. Yet these words, which carry no ideology whatsoever, are the ones that keep winning.
When we decided to study 1 Peter I said that we would be dealing with some of the most contentious issue in Christian life, and today’s lesson is certainly no exception.
But to begin we should go back to 1:23. Here Peter reminds us of the temporal nature of our lives versus the eternal nature of our new lives and God’s word and ends in 1:25 with “this was the word that was preached to your.” Then he starts Chapter 2 urging us, on the basis of the eternal nature of our rebirth and God’s word, to rid ourselves of the sins which plague our natural lives and be like newborn spiritual babies craving spiritual milk. He also notes this is a means, not an end, because the spiritual milk is to enable us to grow up in salvation.
Growth is necessary because babies are not priests (usually). It is this office to which Christians (some or all, depending upon to whom you speak) have been called. It is the nature of this calling that has caused much dissension among Christians.
In 1 Peter 1:3-12 we discussed salvation as hope, joy and privilege and in verse 13 we come to a therefore. Peter is now going to tell us what we ought to do, or how we ought to live based on the salvation we have received.
First he tells us that out of obedience we should not conform to our former evil desires but need to live holy lives, because God is holy in His person. In this context what does holy mean? Are we to be perfect? Is he saying, like Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”? Does holiness equate to perfection or sinlessness? If not, what does it mean?
The Greek word here is hagios. The fundamental meaning is different or other than. It connotes sinlessness because in context it says we are to be different from the world just God is different. Just because our religious practices make us different from the rest of the world does this mean we are doing what Peter says we ought? In what ways are we to be different from the world?