Tuesday, 31 March 2015

1 Peter 2:11 - 17

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it

Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul or surrender to those desires that fight against you. 

Always let others see you behaving properly, even though they may still accuse you of doing wrong. 
Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then on the day of judgment, they will honor God by telling the good things they saw you do and be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens: he wants you to obey all human authorities. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. 

It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society: you will silence stupid and ignorant people by doing right.. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. You are free, but still you are God’s servants, and you must not use your freedom as an excuse for doing wrong.

Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Respect everyone and show special love for God’s people. Love your spiritual family.

Revere God. Respect the government.

(The Message and CEV combined for emphasis and clarity.)

As I read the Epistles, I am again and again reminded of all my mistakes and how very far short I fall of God's standards. I feel as if I am continually striving to improve, to reach a standard of 'perfection' that seems absolutely unattainable.

Far from making progress, I seem to slip further and further back. 
My sinful responses to awkward situations increase.
I become less generous and forgiving.
I behave more and more badly.

BUT Paul encourages me:
"But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do.  What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die? Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me.

So with my mind I serve the Law of God, although my selfish desires make me serve the law of sin.

And so does Alan Redpath:
"When God wants to do an impossible task, he takes an impossible man, and he crushes him."[...
"The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment, but the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime."
"The Christian life doesn't get easier as one gets older."

But I don't beat myself up. I realise that these exhortations and admonitions are written in the Bible because others struggled as I do. They were written because they were needed. 

Life hasn't changed. 

Wise Peter, his wisdom gained through weakness and betrayal, through faithfulness and love, through suffering and sorrow...

May I have the courage to keep on deciding and deciding and deciding with my mind to serve God. 

To decide with my mind to live an exemplary life.

And, when my selfish desires try to take over, to remind myself that I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.

And remind myself of all those who have done that and are persecuted. I determine, again, to know Christ in the power of His suffering.

However small that looks in my life.

"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:7 - 11

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