Each month we’ll be hearing from one of our Regional Ministers, to encourage us along the way as we continue empowering missional disciples in our communities across the West of England.
One of the things I really like about the Bible is its honesty. If I had been writing the Bible, I’d probably have been tempted to clean up the lives of all the people who ‘blew it’. The apostle Peter however, in his letter to these first century gentile Christians (in what we today know as Turkey), doesn’t try to white-wash the lives they had previously lived. He simply says, ‘…you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry’
(4:3). That was their experience, but their lives quite simply, have been transformed – turned around through the grace of God and the selfless sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
In chapter 2:10 he writes, ‘…once you were not a people, but now you are a people’ (no kidding)! In fact, these first century Christians have become ‘God’s special possession’ (2:9), or as one translation puts it ‘…a people belonging to God’. They were once miles away from God, but now, because of what Jesus has done for them and in them – they belong to God!
Once again these verses remind us, that the God we serve is a life changing God – he’s the one who can turn around the life of any man, woman, or young person. Maybe today you have a heavy heart about someone you love, whose life currently is not all that it might be, and you particularly need to hear this? Maybe you need to be reminded of this as an encouragement to keep on praying for them – that son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, or close friend?
On a different note for some of us, it might be that from time to time we are tempted to sit back and think ‘well my life used to be a mess, but I’m pretty much sorted now – so I can sit back and chill out, I’ve got my ticket for eternity’. That’s not at all what the apostle Peter had in mind for these first century Christians. In fact, he says to them, ‘Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires… Live such good lives among the pagans that… they may see your good deeds and glorify God…’. When I think of this, it reminds me of the words of the worship song , ‘We are blessed’, by Andy Flanagan. Rather than sitting back and congratulating ourselves on what God has done for us…
We (have been) blessed, to bless a world in pieces
We are loved, to love where love is not
We are changed, to be the change you promised
We are freed, to be your hands, O God.
May this be so, as we move from the summer months (by God’s grace, refreshed and renewed) into the autumn this year.