We’re Not Home – Intro
We’re Not Home - Sermon Notes
1 Peter 1:1,2
Ever visited a foreign country? Moment that hits you “we’re not home”
Diff language, diff culture, unfamiliar city
Jr High/ HS - didn’t fit in
College/work - there was a text chat or weekend outing, you didn’t get the text; they don’t think of you for the good jobs
Telling your story – Oh, I don’t fit here
All of us can relate to feeling like we don’t fit – we’re not home. That is where the book of 1 Peter begins. Today is going to be our introduction to this letter, and it’s a fascinating history lesson to give us context for who Peter is writing to so we can make some connections. Let’s dive in.
1 Peter 1:1,2 – Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ:
- fisherman turned disciple,
- eyewitness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
- Apostle = one who is sent;
- Book of Acts tells the story of the early church, with Peter as the primary leader as people came to faith in Jesus by the hundreds.
Not long after Jesus raised from dead, religious leaders begin to hunt down/persecute new believers. Book of Acts tells story after story of opposition – So these Jewish converts to following Jesus, found that even in the Temple they didn’t have a home anymore.
Persecution pushed them out of Jerusalem into surrounding regions – most of which were controlled by Rome including Pontus, Galatia, etc
Colonization – Fill it with Roman culture, influence, and loyalty to the Ceaser.
If USA were capturing Guatemala, how do you go about “Americanizing” Guat?
Send Americans who would speak English, build American style homes, introduce burgers and brats, develop American schools/churches/doctors/etc, bring American Flags. You get the picture.
Who do you send?
Rome: Volunteers would go – citizenship or power
Slaves would go – I give you freedom, you give me loyalty
Hand-pick people who don’t fit the brand, specifically:
- People who stirred up trouble, or
- refused to obey certain cultural preferences, or
- people who tried to change Roman culture into something else, or
- they were simply foreigners living in Rome.
Think about the new Christians I just mentioned – they fit all of those! These new Christians did NOT mind their own business. They had just found the Messiah! They had found deliverance from sin. They are walking in the power of the Spirit. They disturbed the peace by preaching on the streets, they offended acceptable Roman morals because they lived by a Biblical standard instead of cultural standard, and they engaged in converting native Romans as often as anyone would believe in Jesus!
So it is very probable that when the Roman emperor Claudius, who was famous for expansion and did in fact establish colonies in all 5 of these places in 1 Peter 1:1, when Claudius was choosing people for these colonies, some of the people who didn’t fit the brand were these new Christians.
That is going to create some issues.
How do you think the people in the recently conquered territories felt about it? They were about to lose their culture, language, and influence. So they would often treat these new citizens with resentment… sometimes even violence and persecution.
So now, when you read rest of verse 1: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia you can almost feel their pain. They know the feeling of not being home all too well. And it would only get worse when Claudius’s son Nero took the throne.
What does this matter for you and me? Who cares. That was then. We aren’t being persecuted!
Unless you live under a rock, Biblical Christianity isn’t exactly the flavor of the month anymore.
- Biblical morals and ideals don’t hold up in court as well – hate speech
- The idea of the supernatural isn’t popular anymore – reason and science
- Right and wrong is up to us. Even in Iowa where 83% of adults say they are at least fairly certain God exists
- Only 32% say there are clear standards for right and wrong.
- 67% say it depends on the situation
- In Iowa, 34% of adults say right and wrong has it’s source in religion
- Almost 50% say the source of right and wrong is based on common sense (1)
The coronavirus situation has given global and national authorities a free pass to use power they don’t have. For the first time in our country’s short history, churches are having to make serious decisions about where the line is for when we will submit to governing authorities and where we won’t.
How are these Christians to live in this new place? They fled persecution once, only to be hand-selected by the emperor for it again.
And as that clamp tightens on committed Christians in Riverside, like it did in 1 Peter, you and I have to choose how we will respond:
- Abandon Ship – “I tried Jesus once and look at where it got me.”
- Assimilate – “functional atheism” when someone believes in God, but their life looks and sounds just like an atheist.
- “Well it’s true for me.” – You do you, and I’ll do me. Agree to disagree.
- Holy Huddle – Stick together, block out the influences of the world.
With every one of those options is a temptation to sinfully abandon the words of Jesus to go into all the world and be vocal about the gospel with the intention and expectation that you will have a hand in someone becoming a Jesus follower.
The temptation Peter is going to address throughout the rest of this letter is the temptation to sin instead of suffer - To abandon the words of God in order to escape hardship. Relief vs Redemption
The Christians then and Christians today are facing the same temptation. So let me ask you this, River City:SLIDE: “What is it you want so bad that you would be willing to sin to have it?” Write it down, text to yourself, think about that this week. That’s your homework.
Peter addresses this temptation in various ways throughout the letter, and then closes the letter with this: SLIDE: There’s a 5th option for a Christian facing suffering: from 5:12: I have written to you briefly in order to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!
SLIDE: Remember the true grace of God! Verse 2:
You are chosen by God! You were chosen, not on the basis of your religion or culture or skin color, or how well you followed the rules of religion, but according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, which means that even before you were born, God already decided that according to his plan and purposes for you, he would take the initiative in draw you into a loving, redemptive relationship with you, and is supreme over every single moment of every single circumstance in your life – including an emperor moving you to a new place. That this is part of God’s providence and purpose for your life, and he’s used the emperor’s fear of other religions to move you where God wants you to be! Nothing is out of God’s control – not your sickness, not your job loss, not COVID19, not your car breaking down, or even the opposition you face. More real than the emperor choosing you to represent him in a new world is that God has chosen you to represent HIM!
Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit! Peter writes, just like you are chosen to come here to “Romanize” the people in the territory you’ve been sent to, bringing them Roman language, culture, and loyalty, the Holy Spirit is working in you to “Jesus-ize” you – to give you the language of heaven, a culture of holiness and purity and love for one another, and to link you to Jesus through suffering in a way you could never have imagined. For what purpose?
To be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ – you have been chosen before the beginning of the world, not to obey a Roman dictator, but to be obedient to the Maker of heaven and earth, and instead of taking away your name, or your hometown, or your neighbors/family, he took away your sin – he took away what separated you from HIM, by sprinkling you clean by the blood of Jesus! You were chosen for that! You were chosen to have your sins removed by the blood of Jesus, so you wouldn’t be a slave to sin anymore. This is the triune God of heaven – Look at verse 2 “Father, Spirit, Son” – working with you and in you to bring you, verse 4, into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you!
WE’RE NOT HOME - but we have a home! We are strangers in this world. We have been implanted by the King of kings into a community that is not our home. We have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness, Colossians 1 says, into the kingdom of the Son he loves, so that, as Peter writes in Chapter 2, we will proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light!
We’re Not Home!
Obedience and sprinkling with blood = covenant sign of Mt Sinai being joined to God // You belong to the Story of God, united by obedience and sprinkling, not by the blood of bulls, but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ who was
- the ultimate chosen, yet rejected stranger
- one man foreknown before the foundation of the world, who left his home to come to our territory – one he had created – to walk in our shoes. Jesus experienced the sorrow of living in a place that wasn’t home.
- He was constantly rejected by the people he came to serve and save, to the point of brutal persecution as he was beaten and crucified as a criminal.
- He endured suffering at the hands of people who misunderstood him, people in power who were threatened by him, and those who flat out refused his message.
- And yet he refused to compromise his calling. He refused to go covert and secretly die for the sin of the world. He refused to be complacent, or give in to the demands of the religious.
- He was fully human and yet by the power of the Spirit in him, overcame every single temptation to chase the ideas of the world.
- He denied himself, took up the cross, and obeyed the Father.
And the rest of 1 Peter goes on to say, listen: As exiles in a country that’s not your home, That’s your example to follow.
- You’re going to suffer as followers of Jesus because you live by different priorities, values, and allegiances than your unbelieving neighbors.
- And if you happen to live in a place (like Riverside Iowa) where you’re not facing physical or verbal persecution, you are still called to the suffering of self-denial. Denying yourself, killing sin in your life, and doing whatever it takes to walk in obedience.
We cannot separate our lives from the life of Jesus.
- You cannot value things he didn’t value.
- You can’t celebrate things he didn’t celebrate.
- You can’t rejoice in his suffering, and his sacrifice of his own life laid down in your place, and then turn around and not be willing to pick up your own cross and deny yourself.
- If Jesus was sinless in his life, we have to follow suit and consider ourselves done with sin, and do whatever it takes to repent of it and put it off, out of our lives.
- And where 67% of Iowans are wrong is that common sense is what leads the way in determining what’s right and wrong. NO! It’s the life of Jesus, the way, the truth, the life, that not only tells, but shows us what is right and wrong. And following his example, we learn it’s better for us to suffer than to sin.
I can think of no better way to begin this series than with communion, because SLIDE: communion is for exiles. Communion is how people chosen by God and dispersed among Kalona, Iowa City, Riverside, Wellman, Washington, Crawfordsville, Lone Tree remember the grace that we’re supposed to stand in. Obedience and sprinkling with the blood of Christ. What we hold in our hands is not only a reminder of what Jesus has done, it is an invitation to follow in our Savior’s footsteps, saying “Here I am, send me. I’d rather suffer than sin.”
Communion is for exiles who
- Believe in their heart and confess with their mouth that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
- See themselves as a sinner, someone still wrestling w/ the presence of sin, but also as forgiven, practicing the gift of repentance often
It is possible that you are here this morning, and those do not apply to you. You have not believed in your heart or confessed out loud to anyone that Jesus is the Lord of your life. We are thrilled that you are here – you’ve come to the right place, but I would ask that you not participate this morning… you can sing, listen, read, but this part isn’t for you yet.
Or it is possible that you have believed and confessed, but you are not repentant. You have unconfessed sin hidden in your heart, and you know what you ought to do but refuse to do it. You are thankful that Jesus suffered for you, but you’d still rather sin than suffer for him. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul says to take communion with unrepentant selfishness in your heart is to eat and drink judgment on yourself. I don’t want that for you. So I would ask you not to participate this morning as well… use this time to repent of your sin, and return to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
- In communion we hold symbols of the body and blood of Christ in the bread and the juice, imperfect symbols tho they are, and in them we remember the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to secure our forgiveness
- And we rejoice in how his body, broken in obedience to God, and the sprinkling of his blood unites us as the people of God.
Parents – this is not snack time, but if you have a child who has made a credible profession of faith, it is your discretion whether they can participate or not – but I encourage you to have a conversation with your kids about what it means before they just go for it.
I invite you to just take a moment. Bow your heads, close your eyes, and be still as I read 1 Peter 2:11, and 21-25. Let the word of God soak into your heart like rain soaking dry ground.
1 Peter 2:11 – Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul.
1 Peter 2:21 – For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Karen H Jobes, 1 Peter (Baker Academic, 2005)
(1) https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/state/iowa/, accessed Sept 8, 2020