Text: 1 Peter 2:9-10 May 29, 2011.
1) “What are you doing?” Joe Stowell and his wife, Martie, loved the nation Great Britain, its culture, history, people and places. When they visited that country, their favorite activity was going to outdoor concerts, known as proms, on the slop of ancient estates. On the finale show “The Last Night of the Proms” was the best with fireworks and hundreds of nationals waving little British flags to rousing patriotic tunes. On one of those events the Stowell couple joined in the celebration with the enthusiastic Brits, by waving the British flags, until their children were aghast. They shouted to their parents over the rousing music, “What are you doing? We’re Americans!”
2) What are we doing? Our God must often feel like that when we blend in and live like the “locals” around us. I can almost hear Him saying, “What are you doing living like that? You belong to my nation!” Apostle Peter reminds us that we are different from the people around us----we belong to a holy nation of God. Being holy means we are setting apart for God, becoming like Jesus and need to reflect God’s counter-cultural ways of living. We are to live a life that reflects the culture of God, the purpose of eternity and the principles of His word.
THE PRIVILEGES OF OUR IDENTITY: (2:9)
1) We are a chosen race: Believers of Jesus become a chosen race, genos eklekton, literally, an elected, called-out group of people. Peter takes the term from the Old Testament: “My people, my chosen. These people I have formed for myself.” (Isaiah 43:20-21) These are born again people. They received a renewed mind from Jesus. They are God’s new creation and they live by the spirit of God. In contrast with the unbelievers, Christians belong to a new race, a new species. Just as God chose the Israeli through his covenant, He chose Christians through his Son Jesus Christ. We are chosen by the solitary decision of God, not merit of our own. We are chosen totally by His grace and we are chosen forever and it is unchangeable.
2) We are a royal priesthood: This is a glorious title given to all those who have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. To these saved people God created a new rank that covers both the royalty, kingly; and priesthood, godly. Priests are chosen to serve as mediators between God and men, but royalty is about serving the King of kings. Christians have the opened path to access God for themselves and for others. The rank of royalty gives us the glory of ruling with Jesus forever. Royal, Basileion generally refers to the residence or a palace where the king resides. God made us, our life and our heart, a place where God will live in with all the glory and honor.
3) We are a holy nation: Nation here, ethnos, is from ethnei, from which we have ethnic, a people or a nation of people. The key word “holy”, hagios, has 2 levels of meaning. When the Bible subscribes “Holy, holy, holy” to God, (Is. 6:3; Re. 4:8) it means clean without blemish, sinless and complete purity. This is our God. When hagios refers to Christians, it means setting apart to God for special use. In 2 Tim 2:21, Paul admonished Timothy, and all of us, “If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do all good work.”
4) We are God’s own possession: Possession, peripoiesis, means purchase with a high price. Believers belong to God because he bought us with the ultimate price, the life of hid own Son. Possession means ownership, value, protection and security. As God’s precious possession, we belong to God, not to the world. We are also protected from all harm or wants. We are also safe and secured in God’s hands no one may snatch us away.
THE DUTIES OF OUR IDENTITY: (2:10)
1) Duties of proclamation: “You may proclaim the excellencies of Him.” (2:9b) To proclaim or to show forth, hopos exaggeilete, means to tell, to speak out, to publish abroad so others may hear. The excellencies or virtues, aretas, which means supreme eminent qualities of God. This is the first duty of believers, to witness for God, to tell people the superior qualities of God and all the great things God has done for man so all will hear and know Him. Our God is not like gods of other religions or cults. Those gods haven’t done anything for anyone except consume the dedication and sacrifices of their faithful.
2) Duties of illumination: “Who has called you out of darkness in to His marvelous light.” (2:9c)Throughout history people of the world lives in two kinds of darkness: intellectual and moral. Intellectual darkness is ignorance—the inability to see and know the truth of God, whereas moral darkness is immorality--- the inability to see and do what is right. “This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world and men love the darkness rather than light, for their deeds are evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and doesn’t come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)But Christ calls us out of darkness into His light so we are to shine His light into the darkness of the world so others may see Him and believe Him.
3) Duties of distinction: “For you once were not a (his) people, but now you are a people of God.” (2:10) Distinction means making obvious difference between people or things. Peter reminds us there is a difference between our former status and the present identity: we were not God’s people before, but we are His people now. Since we have a different identity, we need to live our life in a distinctive way. Paul echoes this saying: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Eph 4:1) Christians are to live their life in different way than that of their old nature to be qualified of their new identity. God changes our identity, we need to change our life purpose and style.
4) Duties of demonstration: “You had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (2:10b)Peter compared two kinds of people in regard to receiving God’s mercy: those who ignore God, rebel against God have not received mercy. But those who repent their sins, obey God’s commands have received mercy of God. It is on his mercy God forgives our sins and grants us his blessings and salvation. Receiving mercy, elethentes, same as pity or compassion a state of love and forgiveness. God requires that we are to love and forgive those who had offended us. The Lord says this: “All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:35) Paul also says this, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) We have received love and mercy from God, let us demonstrate these godly qualities to one another in our everyday life.
1) Know your identity: Knowing our identity is to know who we are and where we need to stand. Dr/Mrs Stowel got carried away to wave the British flag like British caused their children to think they forgot their American identity. Christians need to truly know our new identity when we become children of God and where we need to take the stand when it comes to making choices. We should not forget that God pays a heavy price to give us this new identity and treasure it in all aspects of our life.
2) Make God be proud: From their early years, I told my sons that they bear my last name and I expect them to make decisions, take actions, do things that will make me proud of them even I am not with them. I am sure God expects the same from me and from all of us. Since we have been given the privilege to be called children of God it is our duty as well as privilege to show our God that we treasure the identity He has given us and we will do our best to protect that glorious identity.
3) There is no quota: Heaven is a large place, much larger than anyone can imagine. There is always room for another person. If you do not have the new identity as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, you can always submit your application today. There is no forms to fill and no fees to pay. All you need to do is confess your sins, ask Jesus to forgive you, take him into your heart as Lord and Savior and an ID will be granted to you immediately.