Living away from home
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia… (1 Peter 1:1, NIV)
The lights are going on in the colleges as the students arrive for the new term. Many first years will be living away from home for the first time. It will be a time of great excitement, but there is bound to be the odd poignant moment as they remember what they’ve left behind.
There is a sense in which every Christian lives away from home. That’s the picture Peter is using when he calls his readers exiles. Their real home is with Christ. They belong to him; they have been chosen by him; their family home is with him. But in their present existence, they find themselves scattered in various places, dwelling among many who aren’t Christians, and who think and live very differently.
How are the Christians to live in these circumstances? This is a major question in 1 Peter, the letter we’ll be studying this term at our 5pm services. Here we meet Christians experiencing the world’s opposition, Christians tempted to compromise, Christians facing unjust bosses, Christian women with non-Christian husbands, Christians with friends who think it strange they don’t join in some of the things everyone does. Every page of the letter has a rather contemporary feel.
Peter’s answer avoids two extremes. On the one hand, he never envisages a situation where the Christian retreats into some sort of monasticism. On the other, he is strongly against the temptation just to give in and go with the flow.
Rather, he has a more positive (and courageous!) vision: that of practical holiness. We belong to a holy God, and we should live holy lives in the world. This will point people to Christ.
How are we to do this? What will it take? What mindset will we need? What will ‘living away from home’ really look like? I, for one, am looking forward to our 5pm service sermons, where we’ll be hearing Peter’s answers.
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