Identity and Mission (1 Peter 2:9-12)

2016-Week 21Single life is different from married life. Singleness affords a man or woman more personal freedom. Singleness can also lead to times of loneliness. In married life, the deepest human intimacy is realized. At the same time, married life reveals that a spouse must consider the interests of their husband or wife and value them above all others. Case in point, single life and married life are distinct from one another. How much more, then, should this be true of the Christian life? Last week we observed how our identity centers upon how we respond to Christ. There are those who reject Christ, those who disobey the word and stumble, and those who receive Christ, who trust in Him and become part of the house He is building. If we are those who have received Christ, that is having repented of our sins and having placed our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, our lives should look different from those who have rejected Him. Just as moving from single life to married life changes the dynamic of the relationship, becoming a Christian changes our relationship with God and our relationship to the world. When we ask to forgive us of our sins and we place our faith in the person and work of Christ, we are reconciled to God the Father. Our identity is no longer as enemies of God. Our identity is we are people belonging to God. 1 Peter 2 shows us this by using the four terms “a chosen race”, “a royal priesthood”, “a holy nation”, and “a people for His own possession” (2:9). God has chosen a community of people to be His people and to serve Him as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Our identity as God’s people means we reflect God by being set apart and living holy lives for His sake. By living this way, our identity informs our mission. As God’s people, we live to proclaim who God is and what He has done, namely in the gospel. 1 Peter directs us to this mission in calling to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you of darkness into his marvelous light” (2:9). The excellencies of God are seen clearest in His saving work by bringing sinners out of the darkness into His redeeming light. This salvation not only transforms our relationship with God but affects our relationship to the world. Like the single person who marries and becomes a husband or wife, becoming a Christian changes our relationship to the world. We are no longer friends of the world, although we still live in the world. We do not hide as hermits but we engage our culture and world as strangers and pilgrims. Our identity to the world as exiles reminds us our ultimate home is with the Lord. This identity leads to a different life. For instance, we live in an overly sexualized culture where “feelings” dominate actions. However, the Apostle Peter urges his readers “to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (2:11). The life of a Christian should look distinct from the person who disobeys the Word of God and does whatever they feel. We must realize the Christian life is a spiritual war. We do not give in but we, who have received the Good News, must do good deeds so that even unbelievers will take notice. Honorable conduct in the midst of ridicule and suffering shine the light on the glory of God. They speak as a witness. That is why Peter devotes his time to elaborate more on this in the rest of his letter. Our relationship to the world is different because our identity and mission are different. Our identity and mission to the world are different because our relationship with God is different. Simply put, the gospel of God informs and transforms our identity and mission with God and to the world.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you understand your relationship with God? How does this impact your identity and mission?
  • How do you understand your relationship to the world? How does your identity and mission to the world protect you from going to the extremes of accommodation or isolation?
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