SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
1 Peter 1:1—2:10
Key Verse: As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. – 1 Peter 1:15
God’s People are expected to be different. Holy living is our calling. Holiness is the name of our game. Yet it seems, for the most part, more of an expectation than a reality. There is much truth in the stinging rebuke of many that Christians live no differently than their pagan neighbors in modern society.
Our pagan culture spoofs at the idea of holiness. The culture says, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die. Enjoy yourself. Do not endure the foolish restraints of the Christian faith. Do what you want to do. Do what feels good. If there is a God out there, he wants you to enjoy life. So have fun while you can since this life is all there is.”
Hedonists, lovers of pleasure, ridicule the concept of “sacrifice.” Their advice to “look out for Number One; take care of yourself and get all you can for yourself.”
Nevertheless, God calls us not only to holy conversation but also to holy living in every dimension of our lives. To be holy is to be different, to live by standards that are higher than those of the world. When we settle for anything less, then we disappoint God.
To commit ourselves to the pursuit of holiness every day is not easy, to be sure. Christian values are constantly ridiculed, and there is pressure on all sides to give up our silly notion of living Christlike lives. We must accept the reality, they tell us, that ours is a pluralistic society in which Christian values simply do not fit anymore.
That is why it is so important that we study, and heed, the teaching of Saint Peter. The Apostle knew the difference between corruptible and incorruptible things. Having known Christ, Peter’s values were changed.
Silver and gold were no longer precious to him. Nothing now was more precious than the blood of Christ, the blood by which we have been redeemed to become beloved children of God.
That Jesus died for us, that our salvation was purchased by his blood, cannot be overemphasized. Jesus was so much more than a great example, a great thinker, and a great moral leader. In his suffering, death, and resurrection, Peter tells us, God made Jesus the great Cornerstone of our faith. There is no one else like him; the Cornerstone is the most important stone in a building!
Observe in 1 Peter 2:7 Peter’s use again of the word “precious.” Some reject Jesus. Believers, however, consider him precious, far more valuable than silver and gold. That is why we can say, with great feeling and meaning, “When you have Jesus, you have everything!”
When Jesus becomes more precious to us than anything else in the world, that motivates us to take seriously our calling to live, not by worldly standards, but as “lively stones” in a “spiritual house” in which Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone.
When he is the Crown Jewel of our lives, then we want to please him by living holy lives. Rather than being embarrassed about being “peculiar,” we find joy in living as “a royal priesthood” and “a holy nation.” Both these terms have to do with belonging to and serving God. When we live like this, people may view us as “peculiar” but they may also recognize that we belong to Jesus Christ and that our sole purpose in living is to serve Him. That is when our holiness becomes a testimony to the living God.
The “size” and popularity of our testimony is not important. We can leave that in the hands of God. Bill Bright’s recent death was mourned by millions of persons who did not know Kathy Swanson, who also died recently. Both Bill and Kathy lived holy lives, truly devoted to Jesus Christ.
Bill developed the largest Christian ministry in the world, Campus Crusade for Christ. God used him in a mighty way. His name and his work were known worldwide.
Kathy, on the other hand, was relatively unknown outside the circle of her family and friends. We knew her as a gentle, unassuming wife and mother. In her church she was always working behind the scenes, doing little things that blessed others and honored Christ.
When a group of women in her church was inspired to develop a ministry to the poor in her community, Kathy was in the group. The women called themselves the “Mary-Martha Group.” Their vision, prayer, and hard work led to the creation of a strong interdenominational agency, Christian Care Ministries, which now ministers effectively to many poor people.
Surely both Kathy and Bill received the same greeting when they arrived in heaven: “Well, done, good and faithful servant.” What matters at the last is not fame but faithfulness. To be found faithful in seeking with all our hearts to live pure and holy lives should be the daily desire and focus of our lives – until the Lord calls us home to receive that incorruptible inheritance that is reserved in heaven for each of us. + + + + (Walter may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)