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The Fathers Love Letter To You
0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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Peter


Peter’s Principles #8

“Behave in ways that impress the pagans”

1 Peter 2:9-12

Introduction:

1. Christianity has often shone brightest during the darkest times. In the early centuries believers were persecuted and executed for their faith. The way they died both stunned and attracted the pagans to Jesus and the Gospel. One of the early church historians named Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

2. This is not just a first century practice. Christians are putting their lives at risk and behaving Christianly in the 21st century as well.

A friend of mine recently visited Iran and Afghanistan. Both are overwhelmingly Muslim countries with very few Christians. Did you know that there are followers of Jesus in Iran? It is claimed that there have been more new believers in Jesus in Iran since the Ayatollah Khomeni and the Islamic Revolution than in all previous history combined. There are now up to 25 churches in Iran; the largest gathers about 700 people.
The Christians of Iran have been risking their lives over the past few months to take food and relief articles into the refugee camps inside Afghanistan. They share a similar culture and language to the Afghans. They are risking their lives in the midst of gunfire to show the love of Jesus.

3. Whether in the first century or the twenty-first century, Christians are to behave in ways that impress unbelievers—those unbelievers may be pagans in the Roman Empire, Afghans in a war zone or neighbors next door to where we live in Minnesota. Christians’ behavior powerfully shows people what Jesus is like and why it is good to be his follower. Here’s the way it was described in the New Testament by Peter.

4. 1 Peter 2:9-12
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

5. It begins with what a Christian is.
· You know that you can be something and not fully appreciate who you are.
· That is one of the outcomes of the September 11th terrorist attacks—millions of Americans gained a sudden and deep awareness and appreciation of who they are. It is called patriotism.
· Some people grow up in stable loving families and never think about how good it is. Years later they see unloving unstable families and appreciate for the first time the heritage that is theirs.
· Let me tell you a personal experience. I have a friend named Leslie Flynn. He is retired—closer to my father’s generation than to mine. He has written a whole library of books. Years ago he encouraged me to write books. I didn’t think anyone would publish what I would write. I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to be rejected. Les Flynn kept after me. He kept asking. He kept encouraging. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.
· That’s the way Peter sees Christians. Some people don’t believe. Some people reject Jesus Christ. But, you are a Christian.

I. What a Christian is                                         1 Peter 2:9-10

1. 1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

2. That’s you he’s talking about! If you are a Christian every one of those adjectives describes who you are.

3. You are chosen. God chose you to be on his team.
I have never been a very good athlete. Oh yeah, I won a varsity letter in high school but barely. I certainly wasn’t as good at sports as many others when growing up. I remember the youthful pain of picking teams during grade school gym classes. It could be awful not to be picked. You stand there as two teams are created. You see the camaraderie build as the teams are selected. You wait—hoping you will not be last.
There were a few times when I was picked first. Not because I was good but because a friend was doing the choosing. It felt great! I was important. I was included. It made me want to do my very best.
”But you are a chosen people . . . .” God picked you for his team. God chose you! Not because you’re good but because he likes you. God loves you. God chose you.

4. You are a royal priesthood.
You know what it is like to get caught up in a company’s voicemail system. You push all the numbers and go around in circles—you can never get through to the person you need to talk to.
Every Christian is a priest to God. That is, every Christian has direct access to God himself. It is like being given God’s private phone number. It is like having the PIN number of God so that you can get right through.
You are not an ordinary priest; you are a royal priest. You are part of the family of Jesus Christ the King. You have the key to the palace and direct access to God himself.

5. You are a holy nation.
Holy means “different.” Christians are different in that we are like God. We belong to a nation of God-like citizens. That means that we don’t quite look like, think like or act like everybody else.
At the Olympic games every athlete wears the flag and name of the nation he/she represents. It is considered an honor to compete for Germany, Norway, Japan, China or the USA.
If you are a Christian, you are in the Olympics of life as a citizen of heaven. You wear the name and flag of God. Totally impressive! An indescribable honor.

6. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. There is enormous value in belonging to God.
Suppose I held up a pen and asked you how much you think it is worth. If it’s a Bic you would say one dollar. If it’s a Mont Blanc you might guess more than $100. If I told you that this pen used to belong to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or John Kennedy you might guess $10,000. What’s the difference? Same pen. Same ink. The value is determined by who owned it.
Christians belong to God. You are worth more than money could ever buy. You are worth billions of dollars and much more. You belong to God!

7. We are Christians! We praise God because he made us into Christians. We once were in total darkness. We were sinners. We were lost. We didn’t have a chance. We were nobody. We needed mercy but we hadn’t received mercy. Then everything changed. We became Christians—God gave us mercy, life, salvation, purpose and more. It is an extraordinary transformation to become a Christian.

8. You are something special. But, perhaps you don’t feel so special. There are days when you feel unimportant, unappreciated and just plain lousy.
Let me say something directly but kindly—how we feel is not most important. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, if you are a Christian, this is what you are whether you feel like it or not. (Some people win the lottery but don’t feel rich. Some people—after their wedding—don’t feel married. Some people are expecting a baby and don’t feel pregnant.) The best advice is to start feeling the way you are because being a Christian is a very good thing.

9. 1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

10. That’s who you are. That’s what a Christian is. Now let’s check out what a Christian does.

II. What a Christian does                                 1 Peter 2:11-12

1. 1 Peter 2:11-12
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

2. If “Christians” is who we are then as Christians we ought to live. It wouldn’t make sense to behave like unbelievers. It wouldn’t be good to behave as if we weren’t on God’s team, as if we weren’t priests, as if we were citizens of some other nation, as if we didn’t belong to God.

3. As citizens of heaven we are visitors on earth. While we’re visiting here God wants us not to cave in to our sinful desires. We probably all know what this means—it’s what we all think about doing.
Do you ever want to steal? Feel like lying? Think about having an affair? Would you like to hate people because of their race or religion? Want to hold onto resentment against someone who offended you? How about ripping off some poor people so you can get ahead? And then there is greed, envy, profanity, obscenity, pride and violence. What did I forget—what are the sinful desires that tempt your head and heart? What would you do if you weren’t a Christian but shouldn’t do because you are a Christian?
Don’t do it! Don’t surrender to sinful desires. These desires are at war against your soul. They are out to get you and destroy you. There’s simply no place for evil in the life of a Christian, so make every effort to keep evil out.

4. There’s another reason for us to avoid evil and do good. It’s not just for us but it’s for God’s reputation. Since Christians wear the label of Christians, everything we say and do reflects on Jesus Christ.
Before we act out with good or bad behavior we should think about how it makes God look. It’s not just about our happiness, our comfort, our career, our family, our car, our school and our lives—we are Christians and everything we say and do reflects on Jesus.
When someone wears a uniform every word and action reflects on the company. What do you think if you are treated well or treated poorly by a person wearing a uniform for UPS, Northwest Airlines or McDonald’s? Your attitude toward the company is determined by the behavior of the representatives of the company.
Christians wear the uniform of God. Everything we say and do makes God look good or bad. As a Christian, make God look good. To “glorify God” is to make God look good.

5. We have two ways to make God look good: don’t do bad; do good.
What makes God look good? You tell me. Who has a suggestion you’ll share right now?

6. I’ll get you started—praying for your neighbors; standing against racism at work; scraping the window of the next car in the parking lot; giving money to feed the hungry; babysitting for free for a friend who is broke; helping someone looking for a job to get an interview at your company; forgiving a relative who has treated you unfairly and really doesn’t care; sticking with a marriage that is bad and trying to make it good. What else could be on the list? What are some more ways we could make God look good?

7. Does this mean that unbelievers will become Christians? Will they be impressed? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s not what should determine our behavior. We should avoid evil and do good because we are Christians regardless of how others respond.

8. 1 Peter 2:11-12
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Conclusion:

1. Recently a husband told me the story of his marriage. He said that his wife became a Christian and he didn’t like it. He ridiculed her. He antagonized her. He mocked her. He was rotten to her. He said that she was consistently Christian in her attitude and actions to him for months and years. Finally he decided that if she is what a Christian is . . . then he wanted to become one. That’s exactly what Peter was talking about.

2. For most of us life isn’t easy. There are problems, difficulties, challenges and discouragements. But, we are Christians. In the face of life’s circumstances.

1 Peter 2:9-12
. . . you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

3. You are a Christian! Make God look good!

March 2-3, 2002 Wooddale Church

© Leith Anderson 2002



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