1 Peter 1: 13-16

“set your hope on grace…”

“do not conform to the evil…”

Peter, a close follower of Jesus and a leader among the apostles, wrote to Christians who were geographically dispersed, disrespected as a minority, and feeling isolated.  He then writes “therefore.”  Faced with the suffering and trials of life that we all experience he now gives advice.

         “Set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. (v. 13)” What does it mean to focus on grace? A childhood acronym we were taught is that g-r-a-c-e stands for God’s riches at Christ’s expense.  We receive what we do not deserve because of another’s kindness.  We are gifted not because of merit within ourselves or because of our deeds.  Perhaps a bonus check is an example of grace except I suspect that will be paid for by taxes.  Grace is trashing my husband’s car in an accident and he responds with laughter and hugs because he loves me.  I expect a lecture and censure but receive love and forgiveness.  As Christians we believe God did not ask us to climb up to him through deeds and penance but he incarnated, became human, died a horrible death, and walked through death to show we can live with hope and trust his grace, his forgiveness.  But besides realizing that I am forgiven, I can forgive another because God cares about them.  I do not need to be defensive and revengeful.  The polarities and injustices of our world today will not be ultimately resolved by vaster laws and fighting wars of revenge.  Focus on grace.

         “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. (v.15)”  Interesting that he used the word obedience.  Makes me think of my mother forcing me to tell my sister that I’m sorry for hurting her.  Without someone to teach me reconciliation, I would live in ignorance, but I still must choose whether to obey.  I had five children born close together and when they were all learning to drive, it was not infrequent to have a running dialogue about the need to obey the speed laws and if I, their teacher, was obeying.  I find when I become discouraged that I often enjoy reading the Gospels and looking at the life of Christ.  I ask myself how he lived his life.  He healed and did not curse with disease.  He forgave and did not seek revenge.  He did not plot political intrigue.  I can choose to follow his example or follow my own selfish desires.

         So where does that leave our thinking this morning?  May I suggest we bow our heads and think of just one mistake we have made and been forgiven for.  How did that forgiveness change the path of your life?  Secondly perhaps there is a point of obedience that you struggle with from diet to speeding to other problems.  Ask God for the strength to obey and not live ignorantly.  How we choose to live our lives is important.  It affects our understanding of our suffering and it impacts others.  Blessings.

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