“Survival tool-kit for aliens and exiles”
What are the contents of Peter’s “Survival pack for persecuted aliens and exiles”?
1. In what sense are these young Christian converts from Roman paganism “aliens and exiles”?
In the physical sense they aren’t – they are still living at home, in the land of their birth, speaking their mother tongues. (unlike the Israelite “exiles and aliens” taken into Babylonian exile in 5th century BC by the Assyrians under Nebuchadnezzar II: see Jeremiah 29 v. 4-11, Psalm 137: v.1-6)
But spiritually, by turning to Christ and accepting Him as their Lord and Saviour, they have set themselves at one remove from their native culture, world view, and social mores (no – that’s not a typo!!) which makes them spiritual “outsiders” – they would have started to appreciate the sentiments of the Gospel song “This world is not my home” – in outlook, they are now pilgrims, en route to a new spiritual destination, just “passing through” this world, and they are already “citizens of Heaven” – this is where we got to last week: 1 Peter 2: 9-10.
2. So what is Peter offering them? – three instructions: A Live lives of real holiness
(not to be confused with being self-righteous “Holy Joes”) B Live in peace with your non-Christian neighbours and governors: don’t get the reputation of being bolshy rebels and outlaws – follow the example of Christ when he was being persecuted and rejected.
C Demonstrate, by your patient suffering of persecution, that Christ has freed you from your sinful old lives and that you are now living to the full the new, eternal life which you have now been given by Christ’s death to sin and resurrection to new, eternal life. Even slaves can be “free” like this, even while they remain under a cruel human master!
Questions arising for you to discuss with your friends and/or your house/home/study group:
- What do you think is the difference between being a “Holy Joe” and a sincere, effective Christian?
- Should Christians always obey the law? Are there times when you wouldn’t? Why?
- From what has Christ freed you recently? What had to change in you to allow Him to do so?