Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Those Who Are Different (practical Christianity as explained by an orthodox rebel)

"...for you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that we should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.... Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.... For so is the will of God, that with well-doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men --- as free, but not using your liberty as a cloak for maliciousness, but as the servants of God."
I Pet. 2:9, 11, 15-16

In chapter 1, Peter set down a precedent that we (as Christians) are to be different because we are different (vs. 15 & 23). He then spends the first part of chapter 2 unpacking that difference and then the rest of the book on putting that difference into practice. Though his applications are somewhat unique to his time, the precedent and subsequent unpacking are universal.

The first thing that the precedent entails is our purpose, which is laid down in 2:9 when Peter says that we should "show forth the praises" of God. In the Greek, "show forth the praises" is "aretas exangeilhte," and it literally means to revel/proclaim the heroic and mighty deeds of someone (specifically God, in this context). Herein is our purpose as those who are different: we are to tell God's story, especially in regard to our own lives. He has done heroic and mighty deeds, namely rescuing us from the kingdom of darkness and translating us into the kingdom of His Son (Col. 1:13). We will not hide such things away, but rather we will show them to the generation to come, proclaiming the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and His wonderful works that He has done (Ps. 78:2-4). Thus is our purpose: to proclaim God to be the hero that He is, both at our salvation and in our day-to-day sanctification.

The second thing that the precedent entails is directly related to the first. It is our identity, which is laid down in 2:16 where Peter says, "As free, but not using your liberty as a cloak for maliciousness, but as the servants of God." In the Greek, "free" is "eleutheros," and it was the word for a "freeman". In the ancient world, a "freeman" was someone who had been a slave or debtor but had been set free by someone (usually their master). Thus, even though they were legally free, they always considered themselves indebted to the one who had freed them, living to freely serve them out of love and gratitude. Herein is our identity as those who are different: we are the freemen of God, who has set us free not for freedom's sake, but so that in our freedom we might live unto righteousness (I Peter 2:24b; Rom. 6:18), which is the truest expression of our gratitude and love as well as the truest proclamation of who God is: the Righteous One who has set us free.

Perhaps now you are beginning to see the whole picture. We are the freemen of God, and as such we are the "servants of God," and we live to show forth the mighty, heroic deeds that our Lord has done, viz., saving us from the power of Sin and the wrath of God. That is who we are and what we do, being those who are different. We are free, but our freedom is a means and not an end, a means to give ourselves in love to the one who freed us, and to praise Him, and to show forth His praises to those who are as we once were: enslaved to Sin in dungeons of darkness, never knowing the freedom to love and serve God.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment