Monday, August 13, 2012

What’s The Big Deal of Being Chosen by God? (1 Pet. 1:1-2)

1. Introduction:
As we walk into this first letter from Peter, we must understand that he did not casually write to a bunch of friends in Asia Minor to pass the time of day. He purposed to communicate hope, holiness, and life to people struggling for survival, spiritually and physically. Peter did not write to these folks, asking them to flee for their lives. He sent instructions we all need, for we have a strong tendency to flee from the uncomfortable to the comfortable, i.e., schools, cities, politics, family, and sometimes even the church. We forget that we are called to be uncomfortable (1Pet.2:20-21).

Peter knew that if these folks were going to make it, they must know who they were in Christ. You find strength in knowing who you are! The people needed to know their identity, which in turn would give them a sense of purpose and a reason for the things they were experiencing. If a person falls spiritually, it generally happens because he forgets who he is as a child of God. He begins to let other things identity his life.

Perhaps one of the greatest needs in the Church today is for a renewed sense of identity as Christians. Then, when negative issues confront us, we let them bounce off, not of our emotions or feelings, but rather off of our identity as Christians, as children of God. Only then does life make sense.

What’s the big deal? The big deal is that God’s reputation is at stake as people watch to see how we confront life on a daily basis. So we better know who we are. Peter identifies seven dynamic characteristics in these first two verses, which, if fully understood, will help you face every issue in your life. These words give hope; they promote holiness, and they define life. Let’s see who we are as God sees us.
2. We Are The Elect:
Don’t be afraid of this word “elect.” It simply means that God has provided a plan whereby there will be a people of God, and then He invites everyone to join. In 2 Pet. 3:9, we read that “the Lord is not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 

In attempting to clarify this whole issue of election, Dr. Harry Ironside pictured a man wandering down a broad road leading to destruction. Along the way he comes to a building. Its door is open; over it, where every passerby may see, is written: “Whosoever Will May Come.” 

But on its other side, where only those who have believed and entered in may see, there is inscribed: “Chosen in Christ before the Foundation of the World.” D.L. Moody said it simply that this word, “elect” means “one who is favored or preferred.” As one who believes, I am “favored” by God and given the privilege of being part of what He is doing in our world. It helps me to know I have been elected.

3. We Are Strangers:
To understand that we are strangers in the world is to understand that we are called to be uncomfortable: never at home in the place that we live. To understand this condition, one only has to put himself in the position of one who lives in a country other than his own, a resident alien. As comfortable as the surroundings might be, he still doesn’t belong. The old song that begins, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through,” says it well.

Peter, however, is concerned about their lifestyle as resident aliens. He addresses the issue of how they live in this place where they don’t belong. Sometimes it helps us classify our position by listing the ways in which we are uncomfortable living in the world.

As a Christian, it makes me uncomfortable to be surrounded by sin and sinful living. As children, we all remember the “friends” who tried their best to get us to disregard our parents’ words. It made us uncomfortable because we loved our parents. In the same way, the sinful pressures of the world press against us. It makes us uncomfortable because we love our Father.

We are uncomfortable with broken vows, broken families, broken lives, and a broken world! God’s ideal has been planted in our hearts and written in His Word. So we feel like strangers in the midst of the brokenness.

We are so uncomfortable with the worldly. Profane speech patterns; the media, which glorifies sin; and the degrading music. It rubs against our spiritual sensitivities, hurting us to the core. We feel like strangers here!

We are so uncomfortable with the pressures, which never seem to go away, to conform to worldly standards and thus to betray our trust.

We long for home. We value our spiritual family. We look toward that day when the word “stranger” is not part of our vocabulary because we are living in that city where love resides, speech is pure, music is heavenly vows are eternal and sin is abolished!

Let’s not talk about the fact that if we are not uncomfortable, we’re probably not strangers! Knowing that I’m a stranger helps me understand why I’m uncomfortable. It also reminds me that there is a place where I will be comfortable. It helps me to know I am a stranger here.

   4. We Are Scattered:
The word “scattered” has purpose to it. It helps me to know that where I am is important in God’s agenda of going into all the world. It makes me feel like a missionary, on loan from God to the people I am around. It helps me to know why my circumstances are different from another Christian brother. We are both scattered, but in different places. My job is to “bloom where I am planted” and enjoy the process. It helps me to know I am one of the scattered ones of God.

5. We Are Chosen:
This word “chosen” has special meaning to me. If we were to simply say that in “election” God provided for me by the sacrifice of His son, then in this word “chosen” comes the intimation that we were planned for. One of my friends was adopted as a baby. His adoptive parents always told him, as he was growing up, that he didn’t just “happen,” but that they purposely brought him into their lives to love, nurture and care for him. They planned all of this just for him.

It means something to be chosen. Peter says we are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God.” What a privilege! Because of being chosen. God has developed a special plan for my life that involves the best that He has. It helps me to know I’ve been chosen.

What does it mean to be chosen by God the Father? Peter tells us that it is accomplished by “the sanctifying work of the Spirit” i.e. He draws us to Christ, but more than that, He, the Spirit, sets us apart “for obedience to Jesus Christ.” This identifies our purpose for living as a Christian. My purpose in life as a Christian is not to be successful by worldly standards; it is simply obedience to Christ. It puts all of us on a level playing field. Personal strengths have nothing to do with it. All of this is made possible by the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, i.e., the “sprinkling by blood.”

6. Conclusion:
A blessing attached to these characteristics is special beyond measure. Peter prays that in the midst of being the elect of God, resident aliens, scattered everywhere, planned for or chosen by God, that “grace and peace” would be ours “in abundance.” Grace and peace are two things money can’t buy. Is the “uncomfortable” inconvenience of being a Christian worthwhile? Most certainly! Isn’t it a wonderful thing to be reminded of who we are in Christ? When I know my identity, I have purpose and a reason for the things I am experiencing. My life is full. Amen!

                                                     “I Know Whom I Have Believed”


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