9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
Why would an ordinary fisherman leave the stability and familiarity of his business to follow an itinerant preacher? What would lead a monotheistic Jew to look at Jesus and say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”? How could a man who denied Jesus preach with courage in the midst of persecution? And what would lead a man to choose being crucified upside down (according to tradition) because he felt unworthy to share the same death as his master? These questions paint a picture of Peter’s sojourn. The answer to each? An encounter with Jesus. Like Peter, we could produce any number of reasons for being hesitant about a journey with Jesus. The risk. The discomfort. The lack of control. But when Jesus opens our eyes to see Him for who He is, everything begins to change. All the great things that once defined us suddenly seem fragile compared to being a child of God. All our conceptions of home start to pale in comparison to an eternal home in the unveiled presence of God.
An encounter with Jesus redefines our identity and reshapes our sense of home. We trade what seems like a stable life in the world for what appears to be an unstable life as a sojourner. Was Peter crazy to follow Jesus? Are we? The journey that seems so uncertain is actually the most secure place for the people of God. Sojourner is only a temporary identity, for we are on our way to an enduring city whose designer and builder is God. The journey is full of struggle, but it won’t last forever. Until it ends, we can rest securely in our permanent identity won for us by Jesus Christ. We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. We no longer have to define ourselves. The journey of Jesus Christ to love us and give His life for us defines us. And we no longer have to live for ourselves. We live to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
Our theme, “Sojourn: Toward An Enduring City,” will focus on Peter, his life and his letter (1 Peter). But our ultimate focus is not Peter, but Jesus Christ. An encounter with Jesus led Peter to trade a life at home with family and fish for a life with Jesus as a sojourner. The Lord may not call us to leave our “family and fish”, but how might He reshape our identity and our sense of home? Have we embraced our temporary identity as sojourners and exiles? Have we embraced our permanent identity as the people of God? Would you pray that the Lord would unite us and transform us as we encounter Jesus in His Word and sojourn together?