I recently read a fantastic blog post entitled “10 Reasons not to Become a Missionary.” Though a couple of the reasons given caused me to give a lot of thought to our recent decision to move to Hungary, #2 (Don’t become a missionary to make yourself better) has become the most difficult. See, I may be a Biblical Studies major and generally seen as a “good Christian,” but I’m not so naive to consider myself a “model Christian.” I don’t get in the Word nearly as often as I should, and I need to realize that becoming a Bible teacher won’t instantly change myself from “slacker” to “Master of the Scriptures.” Coming to this realization, I’ve begun to re-instate Bible reading into my regular routine. And gosh, has it been incredible. Here’s a quick look at the passage that blew me away today.
1 Peter 2 – This is the Christian Life
I could write a book on this, but i don’t think i have the time, nor do you probably have the time to read it. However after a lot of notes and a lot of mind-blowing “aha, i see!” moments, I’ve divided Peter’s words into three parts… because I have some strange obsession with grouping things in threes. Suffice it to say that Peter works a bit backwards, starting with how we grow spiritually, moving on to the goal of this growth, and then finishing with our motivation that drives this process in the first place.
Part 1 – Spiritual Growth
Spiritual growth has got to be included in the category of “theologically rich words that get thrown around so much they lose their power.” We can attach this phrase to almost anything; thankfully, Peter is incredibly specific in explaining what spiritual growth is. Where does it start? Reading and Learning the Word of God.
“…like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” (1 Peter 1.2)
Peter rewords this verse later in verse 4, equating reading the word to “coming to him as to a living stone,” so that we might be “built up as a spiritual house.”
If we say we desire God… if we sing “I want to know you more” or “I want to see you” on Sunday morning, yet we neglect the Bible on a regular basis, we are merely making ourselves look and sound spiritual, and therefore fooling ourselves. We are indeed saved by faith alone, but faith in God is hard work! It is not hard in terms of difficulty, but in terms of commitment. It is impossible to please God through passive living, and this applies to how we read his word. Only those who desire his word and yearn to learn his will can truly grow in their faith.
Part 2 – Why We Grow
Peter moves on to the true goal of our salvation – or in other words – the destination of our spiritual growth. To what end do we grow closer to God and fuller in grace? Is it to feel the most joy possible? Is it for a feeling of spiritual security? Not at all.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
This is only one in many places that we read this in Scripture… that the true purpose of our lives as Christians is to make God known, through what we do and what we say. Imagine we took all those you have regular contact with… your friends (actual friends and facebook friends), coworkers, family (both immediate and extended), students, teachers, fellow church members… and then asked them, based on your interaction with them alone, what they knew of the “excellence of God.” What would they say? Would they at least say that they knew you believed in him? Would they say you were eager to share? Would they say you valued God above all else? As my good friend and longtime pastor would say… “Something to think about.”
Part 3 – What Makes Us Grow
We know how we grow, and even what that growth should accomplish… but why? Why do we sing “I want to know you… I want to hear your voice”? Why do we study the scriptures, and why do we glorify God? Because of the Gospel.
In the previous chapter, Peter writes, “you were not redeemed with perishable things… but with precious blood… the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.”
And in chapter two, “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God.”
Peter makes sure to stress the greatness of God as it clashes against the insignificance of man. How on earth can someone who believes both the infinite greatness of God and the pathetic insignificance of himself NOT be motivated by the Gospel!? Why on earth would we skip out on becoming more like Christ and closer to him, even if it does take a great commitment? Peter is telling us that the commitment of our savior for us should only result in a full commitment of us to our savior.
If you’re having a hard time getting back into the Bible, read 1 Peter 1-2. It will only take a few minutes, but I pray that – like myself – it will motivate you to desire the Word of God, bringing you back to the Bible again and again.